Sussex County, NJ Workplace Injury Attorneys
In 2015, almost three million American workers fell victim to a job-related injury or illness, and New Jersey has one of the highest workplace injury rates in the Northeast. Some victims can return to their former occupations after a period of recovery and rehabilitation, some must pursue new lines of work, and some can never work again.
Regardless of the extent of the injury, such incidents always cause significant financial and emotional issues for victims and their families. Two-thirds of New Jersey households have less than $1,000 in savings, and over a third have no savings at all. If an income stream unexpectedly dries up, most families quickly experience severe financial distress. There is emotional fallout as well, as most people define themselves according to their occupations, and if they cannot work, they often feel adrift and isolated.
The compassionate attorneys at Hollander, Strelzik, Pasculli, Hinkes, Vandenberg & Hontz, L.L.C. understand both the financial and emotional damage that accompanies a workplace injury, so we work hard to get the financial compensation that victims both need and deserve. We also understand that you have a vested interest in your case, which is why we proactively communicate with you while the case is pending, so you are never in the dark.
Most of the three million work injury victims suffer from unexpected trauma injuries, and there are several factors that make workers in Northern New Jersey particularly susceptible to such injuries.
Many New Jersey workers have limited English proficiency. If a procedure manual or safety presentation is only in English, they may understand little or none of it. This situation is clearly not the workers’ fault. Instead, the responsibility lies with the employers who fail to accommodate their employees, which is why workers’ compensation is available.
If unemployment is reasonably low, turnover is usually very high. So, while many employees have industry experience, they are unfamiliar with the procedures and nuances of certain job sites.
All companies have safety cultures which either put safety first or safety second, and most companies put profits before people. That is especially true in highly-competitive industries, where a few extra dollars (which often translates to a little less emphasis on safety) is the difference between profit and loss.
Workers’ compensation pays benefits regardless of fault, so even if the victim is partially (or entirely) responsible for the accident, the company is responsible for economic damages.
Some common types of trauma injuries include:
- Falls: These injuries lead to more workers’ compensation claims, and more days of missed work, than any other trauma injury. The resultant broken bones usually require metal plates or pins to set, which means that they also require weeks or months of physical rehabilitation. Furthermore, if the victims fall on their heads or necks, they often sustain permanent injuries which are treatable with therapy and surgery but not reversible or curable.
- Motor Vehicle Crashes: These incidents injure or kill thousands of workers every year. If the collision is work-related, such as a construction site accident, workers’ compensation pays benefits regardless of the driver’s negligence, or lack thereof. Broken bones and head injuries, particularly whiplash injuries, are common in motor vehicle wrecks.
- Electrocution: At busy construction sites, it is almost impossible to distinguish between a live wire and a dormant one. Furthermore, as mentioned above, workers often do not have the tools they need to keep themselves safe in such situations.
- Struck by Object: Like many myths, the old story that a penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building is fatal to a pedestrian on the street is partially true. Small objects, like hammers and wrenches or even bolts and screws, quickly build up a lot of speed, and they are often fatal or near-fatal when dropped only a few feet.
Workers’ compensation benefits in these cases generally include 70% of the victim’s average weekly wage for up to 400 weeks (or until the victim is cleared to return to work), plus all reasonably necessary medical expenses.
By definition, an occupational disease is any condition which develops over the course of more than one work shift. Whether they are fatal or simply irritating, these conditions almost always result in significant days away from work. Some leading occupational disease workers’ compensation claims include:
- Hearing Loss: Long-term exposure to moderately loud noises, such as large machines or even lawn and garden tools, significantly impair hearing over time, which is one reason why this sensory loss is the leading occupational disease in the United States.
- Repetitive Stress: Constant lifting of moderately-heavy objects wear out joints and cause stress on the back. Moreover, office workers often suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and other such illnesses.
- Respiratory Issues: Trace amounts of benzene, silica, and other particulate matter are more than sufficient to cause serious illness, or even death. Furthermore, many employers do not provide their workers with the right type of respirators.
Asbestos-related illnesses are quite common, as well, since just one microscopic fiber that escapes into the air during a construction, renovation, or removal project can cause asbestosis or mesothelioma.
If the victim has a pre-existing condition, workers’ compensation usually pays 100% of both lost wages and medical bills related to the illness or injury. Victims need only establish that a workplace incident significantly aggravated the prior illness or injury.
Trauma injuries and physical diseases are fairly easy to establish, but mental illness is different. Under New Jersey law, job-related mental health issues usually fall into one of three categories:
- Physical Trigger, Mental Illness: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and anxiety disorders are perhaps the most common physical-mental conditions. Generally, these victims need only present objective medical evidence to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
- Mental-Physical: If job stress leads to serious injury, such as a heart attack, victims must demonstrate a clear connection between the conditions of employment and their physical injuries.
- Mental-Mental: If a mental stressor causes a mental disability, workers’ compensation is available if there is convincing medical evidence which supports the claim and the mental stressor was employment-related.
The same rules regarding pre-existing conditions apply to mental illness matters.
Contact Aggressive Attorneys
At Hollander, Strelzik, Pasculli, Hinkes, Vandenberg & Hontz, L.L.C., we stand up for job injury victims throughout New Jersey. For a free consultation, contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Sussex County today.