Edited by Kenneth A. Vercammen, Esq.
No one plans on being injured in an accident, whether it is a fall down or other situation. Speak with a personal injury attorney immediately to retain all your rights. The businesses are responsible for the maintenance of their premises. It is the duty of the manager to inspect and keep the site in a safe condition and free from any and all pitfalls, obstacles or traps that would likely cause injury to workers and persons lawfully thereon. When the Workers Compensation Act was passed many years ago it was probably the first true no fault law in this State. With some very narrow exceptions, the question of negligence (fault) is not an issue if a worker is hurt on the job. Whether or not the employer is at fault has no impact on the worth of a case. In workers comp, employees can bring a claim against their employers worker comp carrier. However, employees cannot file a formal lawsuit against their employer. Financial recovery is limited by state law in workers comp cases. If their injury at the work place was caused by negligence of someone who is not your employer or another employee, a civil lawsuit in Superior Court. In lawsuits, negligence must be proved against someone other than the employer. It is the duty of the owner to properly and adequately inspect, maintain and keep the premises free from danger to life, limb and property of persons lawfully and rightfully using same and to warn of any such dangers or hazards thereon. You may be lawfully upon the premises as an employee or business invitee in the exercise of due care on your part. If severely injured, and the negligence was of someone other than your employer, you can retain an attorney to file a lawsuit for damages, together with costs of suit. Injured people in lawsuits can demand trial by jury. Jury trials are not permitted in workers compensation cases. The Appellate Division court in RAIMO v. FISCHERA __ NJ Super. __ docket 2201-03T5A held contractors duty of care for persons who come onto a construction site is governed by general negligence principles, which require a contractor to exercise reasonable care to maintain the site in a safe condition for any persons who the contractor may reasonably expect to come onto the site, rather than by the common law doctrine of premises liability, under which the landowners tort liability is determined by the injured persons classification as a business invitee, licensee, or trespasser.
WHAT TO TRY TO DO AT THE ACCIDENT SCENE IF INJURED
1. Stop . . . do not leave the scene of the accident. CALL 911, tell them where the accident occurred and (ask for medical help if needed). 2. Notify the property manager or owner, if possible. Insist they observe where you were injured. 3. Get names and addresses of all witnesses. Witnesses will be a tremendous help to you in any subsequent court action if there is any question of liability involved. Get the names and addresses of as many witnesses as possible. If they refuse to identify themselves, jot down identifying features or the license plate numbers of their automobiles. Do not discuss the accident with the witnesses. Do not give the witnesses names to anyone but the police, your attorney or your insurance company.
4. While waiting for ambulance, write down- Accident Information Date __ Time __ Location __ Weather __ area conditions __
5. Summary of accident __
6. Diagram of accident location
7. Seek medical care. If you have any reason to suspect you were injured in the accident, go to a hospital immediately or see a physician promptly. Youll want it on record that you sought treatment right away, not in a week or so.
8. Write down name of Security Personnel, Police Officers, Department and Badge Number, Ambulance crew, etc.
9. Do not assign or accept blame for the accident. - The scene of the accident is not the place to determine fault. Discuss the accident only with the ambulance and medical personnel, your attorney and with representatives of your insurance company. Give the other party only your name and address. - Be cooperative with the police.
10. Have immediate photos taken of accident site.
11. Call a personal injury attorney immediately, not a real estate attorney. Call Kenneth A. Vercammen- Trial Attorney Attorney At Law (732) 572-0500 When you need help the most, we will be ready to help you.
12. Never give a signed statement to the claims adjuster representing the property owners insurance company. The same goes for a phone recording. They may be used against you in court to deny your claim. Speak with your personal injury attorney first.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED AT YOUR WORK PLACE
It is important that you -- 1. DO NOT discuss your case with anyone except your doctors and attorney. 2. DO NOT make any statements or give out any information. 3. DO NOT sign any statements, reports, forms or papers of any kinds, . 4. DO NOT appear at police or other hearings without first consulting with your attorney. INFORM YOUR ATTORNEY PROMPTLY of any notice, request or summons to appear at any hearings. 5. Refer to your attorney anyone who asks you to sign anything or to make any statement or report or who seeks information concerning your case. 6. Direct your doctor and other treatment providers not to furnish or disclose any information concerning your case to any entity other than your insurance company without YOU AND YOUR ATTORNEYS WRITTEN PERMISSION. 7. You may have insurance coverages such as Workers Comp, Blue Cross, Blue Shield or Major Medical which require prompt attention. However, be sure to have your treatment providers send bills immediately to all of your insurance companies. 8. Notify your attorney promptly of any new developments. Small things may be important. Keep your attorney informed. 9. Maintain accurate records of all information and data pertaining to your case. 10. If you or any witnesses should move, be sure to notify your attorney of the new address.
Workers compensation recovery if no negligence by others, but on the job injury Original draft by Julius J. Feinson, Esq. Modified by Kenneth Vercammen, Esq. If a worker is injured on the job, the worker has three basic rights: (1) the right to medical treatment; (2) the right to receive payment (temporary disability) for lost time; and (3) the right to receive payment for any after-effects of the injury if the after-effects are found to be permanent (partial permanent disability). If you are injured, you should immediately report the accident. Make sure an accident report is filled out and write down the names of all witnesses. When a worker is injured on the job, the employer or the employers insurance company are obligated to furnish and pay for medical treatment. However, in New Jersey, the employer has the right to select the doctors who will provide that treatment, since its the employer or its insurance company who is responsible for payment of medical expenses. It follows that if the worker does not go to the authorized treating doctor, then the employer will generally not be responsible for payment of the medical expenses. When an employee is hurt on the job, the employee is entitled to receive temporary disability benefits of 70% of wages up to an amount set by the State. For example, the maximum amount for an injury in 1997 was only $496 per week. These benefits are payable on a retroactive basis if the employee is out at least seven (7) days and the treating doctor certifies that the employee cannot work. In general, temporary disability benefits will continue to be paid so long as the workers treating doctor certifies that the employee cannot work. When medical treatment is completed and the employee is able to return to work, there may be a basis for payment to the employee of benefits for the after-effects of the injury. This is called partial permanent disability and is based on a schedule which utilizes a system of assigning value to each part of the body on a scale of 1% to 100%. Generally, the issue of partial permanent disability is resolved by filing a claim in the Division of Workers Compensation. A lawyer who represents a claimant before the Division of Workers Compensation may not charge any fee in advance. An Administrative Law Judge who hears the case will set the fee (never more than 20%) and if there is no recovery, an attorney will not be allowed a fee. Finally, disposition of a claim in the Division of Workers Compensation will not always operate to end a claim. There are rights and obligations on the part of both the employer and the employee. Since an employee is not obligated to pay a fee in a workers compensation case unless awarded by the Court, it would make sense for the employee to immediately consult an attorney to protect his/her rights. The employee should also be aware of the fact that there are time limits regarding the reporting of accidents. The safest approach is, of course, to report a work related accident immediately, even if it seems relatively minor at the time. Failure to report an accident can cause delays in receiving temporary disability and other benefits. When you meet with a workers compensation attorney, the following information will be requested from you: 1. Name, address and telephone number. 2. Name, address and telephone number of employer. 3. Name, address and telephone number of any union the client is a member of, along with full details of any union benefits that may have been received or to which the client has a right. (There may be a union benefit plan which provides the employee with payments for drugs and medical bills in addition to workers compensation benefits.) 4. The job title the client held when injured, along with the clients educational background and previous employment history. 5. The nature of the employers business. 6. Your Social Security number. 7. Your sex, age, and marital status at the time of the accident. 8. The name of the employers workers compensation insurance carrier or indication of whether the employer is self-insured. 9. The exact details of how you gave notice of the accident to the employer or whether the facts and circumstances are such that the employer must have had knowledge. 10. The exact place where the accident occurred and the date and time of the occurrence. 11. A full description in your own handwriting of how the accident occurred or to the exposures if an occupational disease case. 12. Your wages or earnings and whether on time or piece-work basis, the rate per hour, or the weekly wage. 13. The date when you stopped work and the date of return to work. 14. A statement of past and present complaints, as well as a description of all body parts affected by the accident. Explain any emotional complaints since the accident to investigate the question of neuro-psychiatric disability. 15. The compensation paid for temporary or permanent disability must be ascertained. 16. Full details as to medical aid required and whether it was requested from the employer. If the medical treatment was furnished by the employer, all dates of treatment should be inventoried. If the employer refused to furnish the treatment, indicate in detail all requests made to the employer for treatment, as well as obtaining the names and addresses of all doctors who furnished the treatment. 17. Be certain you have the names and addresses of all physicians and hospitals who rendered medical treatment since the accident, including but not limited to the injuries arising from the accident. Attempt to obtain the amount of all physicians bills and prepare a file for paid and unpaid bills. If you are receiving medical treatment from a doctor of your choice or if the employer has refused to render medical treatment, the attorney must give written notification to the employer and its insurance carrier of all the details concerning your injuries and accident and the name and address of the doctor by whom he is being treated or the name and address of the doctor who is going to be treating him. The attorney must clearly indicate in the letter that this is a formal request pursuant to Title 34 for the employer/respondent to furnish medical treatment by the doctor chosen by the petitioner or, alternatively, that the respondent should immediately provide the name and address of a doctor that it wants to treat the petitioner. In Workers Compensation, the respondent controls the choice of doctor. 18. Any Blue Cross, Blue Shield, or major medical plans which cover you, as well as identification numbers, since it may be possible to obtain payment for medical bills from these plans, if the employer/workers compensation refuses to make payment. See Workers Compensation (ICLE 1983). If you are injured while working, we recommend you immediately speak with an experienced attorney.
Conclusion We appreciate that this is a great deal of information to absorb. However, we are certain that our clients appreciate having this information from the outset. Each request and bit of information given here represents an important part in recovering full value for your injury. Therefore, we respectfully request your full cooperation. If you have questions or concerns regarding these instructions, we encourage you to feel free to contact the office at any time. Call Kenneth Vercammen to schedule an appointment 732-572-0500