New Jersey Case Update

01.22.14

Category: New Jersey

Catalini vs. AIG, decided October 13, 2013, The Honorable Judge Fader

The Judge of compensation awarded petitioner temporary benefits despite her application for and receipt of unemployment benefits.
 
Petitioner re-opened a prior award of 33 and 1/3 percent of partial total and respondent sent her back to the authorized treating doctor to evaluate her for additional treatment. The doctor recommended a total knee replacement. At this time petitioner was receiving unemployment benefits stating that she was capable of working. The crux of the issue before the Court is whether the petitioner’s receipt of unemployment benefits constitutes “wages” which would entitle her to total temporary disability benefits during her “new period of disability.” The Court held that it does. The Court noted that temporary wages are subject to federal income tax and to the federal rules that apply to the reporting of income. The Court held that the petitioner having been a claims adjuster could work even limited duty until the date of surgery was not entitled to temporary benefits until she underwent the surgery on September 5, 2013. Thereafter the petitioner was unable to certify that she was ready and willing and able to work. The Court stated, “Specifically, she can no longer certify that she is ready, willing and able to work nor does she have the ability to look for work until the authorized treating physician deems her to be at maximum medical improvement. “But for the disability,” the petitioner would be able to continue to receive her unemployment benefits.” Thus, the Court awarded her temporary benefits from the date of surgery until she returned to work or was found to be MMI.
 
The decision does make some sense. Petitioner had to represent that she was willing to return to work and could do so. She had to make an effort to seek employment. When she became temporarily totally disabled once again after the surgery, she could no longer make those representations and could not receive UEC benefits as a result. Payment of the temporary total disability from the comp carrier made sense under those circumstances.
 

Burdette v. Harrah’s Atlantic City

 
In Burdette v. Harrah’s Atlantic City (decided January 17, 2014), an unpublished Appellate Court decision, the Court found that when the petitioner was involved in an MVA the resulting injuries were compensable since a small portion of her car was still on her employer’s premises. In this case, the petitioner was exiting the employer’s parking lot and turning onto a public street. While turning, the petitioner’s vehicle was struck by a car driving on the public street. The impact occurred on the public street, but the rear of the petitioner’s vehicle was still located on the employer’s driveway.
 
The respondent denied the claim taking the position that the petitioner had begun her commute home. Following a trial, the workers compensation judge held that there was still one foot length of the car in the parking lot. His decision specified that it did not matter how little or how much of the car was in the parking lot in order for the accident to have occurred in the course of scope of her employment. 
 
The decision in Burdette further solidifies the courts finding that an accident is compensable when any part of a car is still on the premise, regardless of the point of impact.
 
For more information please contact John Kutner at jkutner@wglaw.com or 973.242.1364 or Jennifer Laver at jlaver@wglaw.com or 856.667.9111.

Media Contacts

Sara L. De Long
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