Typically, when an employee suffers an injury in the workplace that entitles the employee to workers’ compensation benefits, it will be due to an accident. In cases in which the harm incurred is not clearly an accident, however, an employer may dispute whether it is compensable. The standards for determining whether harm is both accidental and work-related were discussed in a recent New Jersey ruling in which the employer argued that the employee’s injuries were not covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act because they arose out of a skirmish with another employee. If you suffered harm while working, you may be entitled to benefits and should meet with an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff entered the locker room where another employee was sitting on a bench. He asked the employee to move his legs so he could pass by, but the employee refused. The plaintiff jumped over the employee’s legs but was unable to clear them entirely. The employee then became angry and threw a cup of soda at the plaintiff, after which the plaintiff left the locker room.

Allegedly, the plaintiff returned to the locker room a few minutes later to wash his hands and again encountered the employee who was holding a pizza box. The employee pushed the box in the plaintiff’s direction, after which the plaintiff swung his arm, accidentally hitting the employee’s hat. The employee then shoved the plaintiff, which caused the plaintiff to fall and injure his shoulder. The plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim, but the defendant opposed the claim, arguing that the plaintiff’s injury was not accidental.

Compensable Injuries Under the Workers’ Compensation Act

Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if the employee suffers injuries in an accident that occurs in the course and scope of employment. In order for coverage to be triggered, there must be a causal connection between the employment and the accident.

The court explained that an accident will be found to have arisen in the course of employment if it occurs during the hours of employment, in a place where the employee would typically be. The injury must also occur while the employee is either fulfilling the duties of employment or completing a task that is incidental to employment. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff’s injury was both accidental and work-related. Specifically, the court found that neither the plaintiff nor the employee were trying to hurt one another but were both reacting to a perceived threat. Thus, the plaintiff’s injury was deemed compensable.

Speak to a Proficient Workers’ Compensation Attorney in New Jersey

Injuries that occur at work will often constitute workplace injuries under the Workers’ Compensation Act, but in some instances, an employer will argue that an injury in the workplace was not accidental. If you were hurt at work, you could be entitled to benefits, and you should meet with an attorney to assess your case. The New Jersey workplace injury attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can assess your injuries and help you to fight for any benefits you may be owed. You can reach us via our form online or at 800-999-0897 to discuss your potential claims.