In New Jersey, workers' compensation is a no-fault system, meaning as long as the injury "arose out of and while the employee was in the course of employment," it is compensable and benefits are owed. Benefits are permissible in the form of medical, temporary disability and permanent disability. This broad definition of "compensable claims" is not without some limitation. There is a saying, "the devil is the details," and employers should consider this saying when preparing First Notice of Injury (FNOI).
There are many factors the employer should focus on when preparing the FNOI with the most basic being the date of the accident. The employees bear the responsibility of providing the employer notice of the injuries, within 90 days of a traumatic/specific accident. Should the injury be reported after 90 days of its occurrence, then the employer can assert a notice defense against compensability.
Additionally, the employer should, find out what precipitated the incident. In New Jersey, there is what legal practitioner's call "idiopathic" injury defense meaning the risk of injury is one personal to the employee. For example, Lisa is employed as a file clerk and falls while walking to the file room. The employer should have Lisa confirm whether she fell, with no apparent cause versus tripping and falling down. If it appears the fall occurred without incident, then it is possible the risk is one personal to Lisa. It would be prudent for the employer to send Lisa to the emergency room and have a medical practitioner confirm the cause of the fall. If at the hospital, it is discovered that Lisa has a severe degenerative knee condition with history of her knee going out, the fall at work arguably is due to a risk personal to her. Conversely, if Lisa reported she tripped over a tissue box on the floor, then the event would be compensable.
Details are important in many aspects of life and certainly can be beneficial in uncovering the factors pertinent to minimizing an employer's exposure stemming from workplace injuries.
For more information Contact Ronni Bright at firstname.lastname@example.org or 856. 382.3058.
Disclaimer: The contents of this post are for informational purposes only, are not legal advice and do not create and attorney-client relationship.