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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

The facts about asbestos and asbestosis

Prior to recognizing the dangers of asbestos, it was commonly used in a wide variety of products. This is why many workers in New Jersey are still exposed to it on a regular basis, which might lead to health problems. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, breathing in asbestos can lead to significant reduction in lung function, lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Because of the health hazards, there are several standards in place to protect workers, especially those in construction and who work in the shipyard. These involve reducing exposure to workers, monitoring the airborne levels and using certain protective gear to diminish the health risk as much as possible.

What is voluntary tender in workers' compensation cases?

After a serious accident in the workplace, you might find yourself unable to work but with a long wait before your workers' compensation benefits arrive. At Parisi and Gerlanc, we understand how hard it can be to go without a paycheck while you wait for a workers' compensation to be handled. In New Jersey, prior to your workers' compensation settlement, you have the choice to apply for voluntary tender.

If you become seriously injured after an accident, you might qualify for temporary disability benefits through workers' compensation. However, this might not provide sufficient funds. According to the New Jersey Department of Labor, you are entitled to these benefits until there will be no further improvement of your condition, known as maximum medical improvement, or you are able to work again. There are minimum and maximum rates between which the amount you receive must fall. Additionally, the temporary disability benefits are only 70 percent of your average weekly wage.  

How much worker's comp is a lost limb worth in New Jersey?

A workplace injury resulting in an amputation most likely qualifies you for workers' compensation. The amount you receive depends on the state in which you work, as well as which appendage/appendages were lost. According to ProPublica, New Jersey workers' compensation benefits pays higher than the national average for several limbs, but some are valued at a lower than average amount.

The amount paid depends on what is known as a schedule of disabilities, which details the maximum amount of money offered per limb. This is calculated based on a combination of what is lost, as well as the percentage of disability that results from the lost limb. For example, if you were to lose a finger but still be able to perform the majority of your job, then you would not be entitled to as much workers' compensation money as you would if the loss of the finger severely limited your ability to work.

Protection from retaliation for a workers' compensation claim

When an employee is injured on the job, he or she is entitled to file a workers' compensation claim in New Jersey. The Workers' Compensation Statute in New Jersey details the law surrounding workers' compensation and includes a provision protecting workers from any retaliation by an employer, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. 

Under the statute, testifying at a hearing or filing a claim cannot be grounds for firing an employee. However, this does not completely protect employees from being fired from their position or losing other employment benefits. The law does not protect against an employer taking away any health benefits while an employee is on medical leave.

Forklift accidents common causes of injuries and death

Forklifts are commonplace in a variety of industries, especially those requiring the use of warehouses, all across New Jersey. Many businesses categorize these machines as invaluable equipment with which work could not happen. However, they are also dangerous and account for a significant number of workplace accidents, according to Tools of the Trade.

Many of these accidents could have been prevented with proper safety measures in place. Following simple guidelines, such as using headlights, observing speed limits, yielding to pedestrians and retaining a clear field of vision, could have prevented 70 percent of forklift accidents. These accidents do not just affect the driver; pedestrians are also at risk. In fact, pedestrians are involved in almost 80 percent of accidents. 

Common construction hazards resulting in injuries

Construction is one of the most dangerous industries for workers in New Jersey and around the country. There are around 252,000 active construction sites each day, with around 6.5 million workers nationwide, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. There are common hazards in this industry that cause many of the injuries.

The most common hazards, as stated on OSHA's site, include:

  •        Falls (from heights);
  •        Trench collapse;
  •        Scaffold collapse;
  •        Electric shock and arc flash/arc blast;
  •        Failure to use proper personal protective equipment; and
  •        Repetitive motion injuries. 

What do I do if my claim is denied?

Here at Parisi and Gerlanc, people often ask us about their rights after their workers' compensation claim is denied. Insurance companies find many reasons to deny a claim for benefits. There are typically two main categories for the denial: either your injury or illness is not work-related or it was due to inappropriate behavior that you allegedly engaged in.

In New Jersey, there is a standard procedure to follow if you find yourself with a workers' compensation claim denied by your employer's insurer. This is known as an appeal, in which you formally contest the decision and ask for it to be reviewed a second time. According to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, if you disagree with the ruling from your employers' insurer, you can submit an application for an informal hearing or a formal claim petition or to dispute the decision.  

What is the most common workplace accident to end in fatality?

When you go to work every day in New Jersey, you probably do not think too much about the danger to your life, unless you work in a high-risk environment. Although the overall number of workplace injuries and death has decreased as health and safety practices increased, approximately 3.3 per 100,000 full time equivalent workers succumbed to a fatal accident in 2013 and 2014, around the country, according to preliminary numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2014, the number of people who died due to workplace accidents rose slightly from the previous year for a preliminary total of 4,679. You might be thinking that these fatal incidents only involved workers in the more high-risk industries, such as law enforcement, construction and oil fields. However, there were fatalities across many industries you might not expect, including educational and health services, financial activities and information. As you might assume, transportation and construction did top the list of industries with the most fatalities, with 874 fatalities in construction and 735 in transportation and warehousing.

New Jersey hospital making changes after attacks on workers

Workers in the health care industry can be at a higher risk of injury than employees in other occupations. This is not surprising since workers are often exposed to illness on a daily basis, must lift heavy patients, work long hours and may have to deal with combative residents. It is the responsibility of New Jersey hospitals or medical facilities to make sure that there are precautions and policies in place to protect their workers from unnecessary harm.

Bergen Regional Medical Center states that it recently made changes after it was warned by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and then cited, over violence within its walls against workers. The hospital, which provides psychiatric care, states that to protect workers from bites or scratches, long sleeves are now required. Additionally, hair must be worn in a bun by staff members if it falls past a specified length and the facility now bolts charts down, which were previously movable.

Am I struggling with PTSD?

Like other people in New Jersey, you expect your work environment to be a safe one. However, as numerous news stories can testify, workplaces can become the scene of violence – sometimes at the hands of total strangers and other times at the hands of a co-worker. If you have witnessed a traumatic event, you may be struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to Mental Health America, every year, 14 million people in the United States have PTSD. There are a wide range of symptoms and these include the following:

  •          Depression
  •          Nightmares
  •          Anxiety
  •          Constant feeling of fear
  •          Panic attacks