While under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act, employers are required to provide eligible employees who suffer work injuries with medical and disability benefits, many employers will argue that such benefits are not warranted. As such, in some cases, a workers’ compensation judge will be called on to determine whether an injury is compensable, and if so, what benefits the employee is owed. A judge’s basis for making such determinations was recently discussed in a case in which an employer admitted an employee’s injury was work-related but denied that it prevented him from working. If you work in New Jersey and sustained a work-related injury, it is prudent to talk to a capable New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to determine your rights.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff worked for the defendant as a laborer. He was injured in a single-vehicle accident when he was driving a truck owned by the defendant after leaving the defendant’s concrete plant. He was terminated the day after the accident for failing to submit to a drug test following the accident. The plaintiff suffered substantial injuries because of the accident and filed a workers’ compensation petition.

It is reported that the defendant originally denied that the plaintiff suffered a work-related injury. It later admitted the injury was compensable and paid the plaintiff medical benefits but denied that the injury prevented the plaintiff from working. The plaintiff then filed a motion for disability benefits. Following a hearing, the judge granted the plaintiff disability benefits and delay damages, and the defendant appealed.

A Workers’ Compensation Judge’s Evaluation of Evidence

An appellate court reviewing a workers’ compensation judge’s ruling is limited to evaluating whether the judge’s findings could have been reached on the credible evidence of record, considering the proofs presented as a whole, and giving due weight to the judge’s opportunity to observe and assess the witnesses and their credibility. A judge’s legal findings are not entitled to deference, however, and will be reviewed anew.

Further, although the Rules of Evidence do not apply in compensation hearings, it is well-established that a compensation judge’s determinations must be based on competent evidence. In the subject case, the appellate court noted that the workers’ compensation judge based his findings on evidence that was not admitted during his hearing. Further, the judge also considered the evidence the plaintiff submitted after the hearing, despite the defendant’s objections. Based on the foregoing, the appellate court found that there was no evidence to support the judge’s findings. Thus, the order granting the disability benefits was vacated.

Discuss Your Claims with a Skillful New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Injured employees are often owed workers’ compensation benefits, but in many cases, their employers attempt to deny them the payments they are owed. If you were hurt while working and your employer has denied or delayed payment on your workers’ compensation claim, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible. The skillful New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can inform you of your rights and aid you in fighting to recover any benefits you might be owed. We can be contacted at 800-999-0897 or via the form online to set up a meeting.