The New Jersey Appellate Division just handed down a decision in Larry D. Batts v. Flag House, a case that although not precedent for other courts to follow (the decision was an unpublished decision under Docket No. A-5616-15T4, January 16, 2018), discusses two important things:
A decision by a workers’ compensation Judge supported by substantial credible evidence will be generally upheld as substantial deference is given to their decisions as the trier of fact. This is a common theme in many Appellate decisions but an important one to note when you are making a record in a trial.
When an original case settles under an Order Approving Settlement involving more than one body part (arm and back, neck and psych, etc.) and the first re-opener is filed and settled with an increase to one of the original body parts but remains silent as to the other body parts, the second re-opener may include an increase in disability to the other body part that was not increased in the prior re-opener OAS (of course the petitioner still has to prove an increase in permanency!).
In Larry D. Batts v. Flag Ship, petitioner claimed injury to his right foot as well as psychiatric disability for chronic depression and anxiety disorder as a result of an accident that occurred on April 2, 1998 while at work when a forklift ran over his right ankle. The original case settled under an Order Approving Settlement awarding the petitioner 50% of the right foot for orthopedic disability and 10% of partial total for psychiatric disability. Continue reading New Jersey: No Modification to Award 18 Years After Loss→
Statutorily, in New Jersey, all employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance for all “employees” by either a valid workers’ compensation insurance policy or through self-insurance (based upon the financial ability of the employer to meet its obligations under the law and the permanence of the business). In some states employers can “opt-out” of the mandatory workers’ compensation requirements. New Jersey is not one of those states.
In September 2012, Fredy Ucelo, then a 17-year-old illegal immigrant, was working at El Nuevo Bodegon in Paterson, New Jersey. Ucelo was operating a table-mounted meat-grinding machine when he lodged his right, dominant, hand within the machine’s metal teeth. After failed surgical intervention, Ucelo was ultimately left with his arm amputated just below the elbow. After undergoing surgery, Ucelo struggled balancing the weight of the initial mechanical prosthesis he was provided. Ucelo then rejected the use of a second mechanical prosthesis — a fairly common occurrence in scenarios where children and young adults lose an appendage.
Ucelo’s counsel admitted that Ucelo was within the course and scope of employment at the time of the incident in dispute’s occurrence; and filed for workers’ compensation benefits. The insurance carrier for the store that employed Ucelo accepted Ucelo’s claim as compensable. However, Ucelo’s attorneys filed suit in The Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex Vicinage. The suit alleged that the machine Ucelo was using was missing a guard for its opening. Furthermore, the suit claimed that the task Ucelo was performing was prohibited for minors by both federal and state statutes due to its being deemed a “potentially hazardous task.” Continue reading Undocumented Status Not A Bar to Recovery in New Jersey→