Common Mistakes in Workers’ Compensation Claims—Part Two

Common Mistakes in Workers' Compensation Claims—Part TwoThe workers’ compensation system can be challenging, even when you do everything according to the book. You don’t want to risk disqualification for benefits by failing to follow certain basic procedures. In an earlier blog, we talked about the importance of notifying your employer as soon as possible and of filing your claim in a timely manner. Here are some additional mistakes to avoid.

Don’t Focus on the Major Injuries and Ignore the Minor Ones

A common mistake injured workers make is to tell health care providers only about significant injuries. You need to inform your doctor or physician about anything that’s out of the ordinary. Don’t focus on the broken leg and fail to disclose the pain in your lower back or the discomfort in your other foot. It’s all tied together.

Don’t Ignore Your Doctor’s Orders

Even if your benefits are approved, you’ll remain in the care of a physician until you have fully recovered or have reached maximum medical improvement. The workers’ compensation insurance provider will likely monitor your progress. If there’s evidence that you are not doing what your doctor prescribes to obtain maximum recovery, you may lose your benefits.

Don’t Accept a Single Unfavorable Medical Opinion

Your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance provider will probably require that you submit to an examination by a company-selected doctor. If that doctor says you don’t have an injury that prevents you from working, you have the right to seek a second and even a third opinion. You can always go to your personal physician and should do so.

Contact Us

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

Common Mistakes in Workers’ Compensation Claims

Common Mistakes in Workers' Compensation ClaimsThe workers’ compensation system can be complex and intimidating, and even seemingly clear cut cases can start with a rejection of benefits. You don’t want to take any actions to jeopardize or minimize your right to benefits. Here are some of the key mistakes you don’t want to make when seeking workers’ compensation.

Don’t Wait to File Your Claim

You must file your claim in a timely manner or you risk losing the right to benefits. At the same time, you want your application for benefits to complete and accurate. That leads to the next mistake to avoid.

Don’t Try to Handle Your Workers’ Compensation Claim by Yourself

Your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance company have a vested interest in paying you as little as possible (including nothing, if they can get away with it). Don’t be surprised if your employer or the insurer brings in legal counsel immediately. You need to do the same thing. Your attorney will know exactly what needs to be done when, and can properly respond to any questions or challenges from your employer or the insurance company.

Don’t Fail to Report Your Accident as Soon as Possible

The more time you wait to report the accident, the more opportunity you give your employer or the insurance company to argue that your injury was caused by some intervening event, or that your injury was not as serious as you claim it is. Unless your injury requires emergency care, notify your employer immediately and then seek medical treatment.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Social Security Disability BenefitsIf you have an injury or illness that prevents you from working, you may be eligible for monetary benefits through the Social Security Administration. You have to be careful, though, that you don’t unintentionally jeopardize your right to receive benefits. Here are some things to avoid.

Don’t File for Unemployment If Your Social Security Disability Claim is Still Pending

Your Social Security disability claim is premised on your representation that you are unable to work. However, when you file for unemployment compensation, you typically must state that you are ready and able to work in order to be able to collect benefits. Accordingly, the administrative law judge reviewing your Social Security disability claim may determine that, if you were ready and able to work, you don’t qualify for Social Security disability payments.

Don’t Earn Too Much

Under current Social Security Administration rules, you can earn up to $1,130 per month and still collect Social Security disability payments. However, the extent to which you work in any capacity can put you at risk of losing your Social Security disability benefits, as an administrative law judge may determine that you have the ability to work and don’t qualify for Social Security disability.

Don’t Ignore Your Doctors

You’ll find it extremely difficult to collect Social Security disability benefits without an opinion from a medical professional. But you may also run into difficulties if you don’t follow your doctor’s advice. If you are prescribed medication, rehab, physical therapy or any other treatment, don’t ignore or avoid it.

Contact Us

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all Social Security disability cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

The Fatal Four – The Most Common Construction Site Accidents

The Fatal Four – The Most Common Construction Site Accidents

There are lots of ways to get hurt on a construction site, and the injuries are often serious. In fact, statistics show that more than 900 construction workers died from work-related accidents in 2015, with nearly two out of three caused by four types of accidents—the so-called “fatal four.”

Falls from Heights

More than any other factor, falls from heights cause fatal accidents on residential and commercial construction sites. Studies show that that almost 40% of the accidental deaths on building sites involve falls from upper levels or roofs, as well as poorly designed, constructed or maintained scaffolding or ladders. Often, owners or contractors fail to install safety mechanisms, including barriers, guard rails or construction fences. In addition, many workers die because of the malfunction of cranes, elevators, harnesses and other devices that allow them to work at heights.

Falling Objects

Another one in ten of the deaths occurring on construction sites are caused by falling objects. This can include a wide variety of items, from construction materials to tools or job site debris.

Electrocution

Often, in the push to complete a project, carpenters and other construction workers will be side-by-side with electricians, exposing them to live electrical current. In addition, many projects go up around live overhead power lines. Electrocutions account for nearly 10% of all construction site deaths.

Caught-Between Accidents

These types of accidents can happen a number of different ways. A worker may get trapped or crushed under equipment or between heavy equipment and the building structure, or by a collapsing wall or trench. Caught-between accidents are responsible for approximately 7% of all construction site deaths.

Contact Us

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all construction site injury cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

Is Your Injury Work-Related? – Part Two

Is Your Injury Work-Related? – Part Two

In an earlier blog, we explained the requirements to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey: you must have been injured and the injury must have been in the course of your employment. In that blog, we looked at whether you qualify for workers’ compensation if you were hurt during a work-related break or while traveling for your job. In this blog, we look at eligibility if you suffered injury at a company-sponsored event, or if your injury resulted from your own wrongdoing.

Injuries Suffered at a Company Outing or Event

It’s become pretty common for employers to sponsor team-building or employee appreciation events, such as golf outings or trips. What happens if you suffer an injury at a company-sponsored outing? In most instances, you’ll be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits, even if attendance was optional. There are exceptions, though. If you were engaged in some unreasonable conduct when the injury occurred, your claim may be denied. For example, suppose your employer sponsored a zip-lining event as a team-building event and you became drunk and suffered an injury. Unless your employer provided the alcohol, you probably won’t be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits.

Injuries Resulting from Your Own Wrongdoing

Workers’ compensation laws are generally no-fault statutes—that means that you are covered regardless of who caused the accident. Accordingly, your own negligence won’t prevent you from recovering benefits. However, if your employer can show that you intentionally injured yourself, or that you consciously disregarded company policy or safety rules, your claim may be denied.

Contact Us

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

Is Your Injury Work-Related? – Part One

Is Your Injury Work-Related? – Part One

Under New Jersey law, there are only two requirements to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits: you must have been injured, and the injury must have been suffered while you were performing the normal functions, duties and responsibilities of your job. If you have an accident while running a machine, loading a truck or in some other task clearly within your job description, there’s usually little question whether you meet the tests above. But there are situations where, even though you’re on the clock, questions may arise as to whether you were actually working at the time.

When You Are Hurt on a Break

Under state and/or federal labor laws, most workers are entitled to regular breaks, including a lunch break. Will you still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if you slip and fall in the company cafeteria while at lunch? Does it make a difference if you leave company premises to get something to eat?

As a general rule, if you are still on company property and taking an authorized break, injuries that you suffer will typically qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, unless they are intentionally self-inflicted or unless you were engaged in horseplay or unauthorized conduct at the time. If you choose to go out to a restaurant for a meal, any injuries sustained to, from or while at the restaurant are generally not covered by workers’ compensation, unless you went to the restaurant on behalf of a supervisor or the company, picking up food for others, for instance.

When You Are Traveling for Your Employer

Injuries suffered on your commute to or from work are not considered work-related injuries, unless you deviated from your normal route to do some work-related task. If your job requires that you travel, or if you attend a conference, convention or seminar that is work-related, you may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits for any injuries suffered getting to or from the event, or while at the event, provided the activity you were engaged in was not essentially or primarily personal. For example, if you slip and fall at the hotel while traveling for work, you will likely be covered, unless you were headed out to a nightclub or other personal trip on your down time. If, instead, you were headed to or from a session or other work-related event, you’ll likely be covered.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

Will a Preexisting Condition Prevent You from Recovering Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Can You Recover Workers’ Compensation Benefits If You Had a Preexisting Condition?

Under the workers’ compensation laws of New Jersey, you are entitled to pursue disability payments if you meet two tests: you were working and you suffered the injury while on the job. But what if you had a preexisting condition? What if you suffered an unrelated injury in a motor vehicle accident or some other incident in the past? Can your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company argue that the injury was not work-related and that you’re not entitled to benefits?

Under New Jersey law, a workers’ compensation claim cannot be rejected solely on the basis that the injured worker had a preexisting condition. If you can show that your current injury is an aggravation or exacerbation of a pre-existing injury, and not simply the consequence of that prior injury, your current employer’s workers’ compensation carrier can be required to provide you with benefits.

One of the key factors when you have a preexisting condition is showing that some current work-related activity has made the prior injury worse. For example, if you hurt your shoulder playing tennis as a child and you get a job lifting boxes above your head, the fact that your new job causes you to experience pain resulting from the tennis injury will likely not suffice to allow you to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, if you slip and fall on the shoulder, or if you are suddenly required to lift boxes or items that are much heavier, and there’s new pain, you may be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits.

Contact Us

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day

Does Your Status as an Independent Contractor Prevent You from Filing for Workers’ Compensation?

Employers and workers’ compensation insurance companies both have a vested interest in minimizing the amount paid out for work-related injuries. Employers must pay higher premiums if there are more claims against them, and workers’ compensation insurance companies maximize their profits by minimizing the compensation they pay to injured workers.

A common ploy by employers and insurers is to deny coverage by alleging that you were not an employee, but an independent contractor. This strategy is used in a wide range of industries, covering a broad spectrum of workers, from sales people to construction workers. It’s important to understand, though, that many of the bases that companies and insurers use to deny coverage are without merit:

  • You don’t have to be on the company payroll to qualify for workers’ compensation
  • You don’t have to have payroll taxes withheld on your behalf to receive workers’ compensation
  • It’s not necessary that you have an office or a locker at any company location to be considered an employee for purposes of workers’ compensation

Here are some of the other tests for determining whether an employee is actually an independent contractor, and not eligible for workers’ compensation.

  • The worker must be able to act independently, free of any direction or control by the company paying the bill. The more control exercised, the greater the likelihood of an employer-employee relationship.
  • The worker is typically paid for the job, not by the hour or by salary
  • A person who provides his or her own equipment is typically considered an independent contractor
  • A person is not an independent contractor simply because there’s an agreement designating him or her as such. The nature of the work and the relationship will take precedence over what is alleged in writing.

Contact Us

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.

Consequential Injuries and Workers’ Compensation Benefits

When you’ve been hurt on the job, there’s an inclination to believe that your injury must be serious and catastrophic, and must be readily apparent, for you to be able to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. There are times, though, when a seemingly minor injury can become quite serious and can keep you off work for weeks, months or years.

What are Consequential Injuries?

Consequential injuries are those that arise because of an earlier injury, but which may not be visible or apparent in the immediate aftermath of an accident. Often, soft tissue injuries, such as muscle pulls, sprains, strains or even trauma to connective tissue (ligaments and tendons) take a period of time to fully manifest. Just after the accident, before nerves become inflamed, you may be able to move about without much restriction. You may initially make small adjustments in how you walk, stand, sit or lie down, though, and those small adjustments can have a significant impact over a period of time. As a result, you may discover that 2-3 months after your accident, you experience excruciating pain engaging in the most routine daily tasks.

As another example, suppose you sustain a small cut to your finger—maybe from a paper cut—and you experience minimal discomfort for a few days. But assume that the cut gets infected. It could cause you to experience limited use of a hand or arm for a while, or it could lead to infection throughout your body. You may not think it’s worth it to file a workers’ compensation claim for a paper cut, but it could be the reason you can’t work.

Contact Us

To arrange a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-200-2297. Evening and weekend meetings are available upon request. We take all major credit cards.

We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.