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Does Child Support Impact Workers Comp Benefits in New Jersey?

Many of our clients who are injured on the job also have child support obligations at the time of their injuries. Some are also child support recipients. It’s natural to wonder how your child support might impact your disability benefits.

Here’s what you need to know.

If You Are Paying Child Support

If you have a regular child support payment then the New Jersey Child Support enforcement office can take your payment right out of your benefit amounts, just like they were able to take them out of your paycheck. You will still continue to owe child support.

Of course, this can prove financially difficult for some of our clients, as they are now only receiving 70% of their wages, but their child support amount remains the same. 

Depending on when you are expected to recover and how well you are expected to recover, you may be able to apply for a modification of child support that lowers your payment amount based on the amount of money that is actually coming into your bank account every week. To do this you would have to file a motion with the family court. It may be a good idea to look into taking this step sooner rather than later so that your child support does not go into arrears.  

If you owe back child support then a lien will be attached to your case. The arrears will have to get paid right out of your workers compensation settlement. That’s statutory, which means …

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What Happens When a Work-Related Injury Exacerbates a Pre-Existing Condition in New Jersey? 

In New Jersey, you have a right to workers compensation, even if you have a pre-existing or chronic condition. Under New Jersey law, employers are considered to have  hired you “as you are,” which means that they took you with all the conditions you came to them with. 

In fact, you are entitled to compensation for the exacerbation if the workplace injury made your pre-existing condition worse. 

Here’s what you need to know about how a pre-existing condition could impact your claim.

Your employer could dispute causality.

Even though employers may not deny your claim on the basis of the existence of a pre-existing condition, you nevertheless will have to prove that the condition was “aggravated, accelerated, or combined with the pre-existing disease or infirmary to produce the disability for which compensation is sought.” (Sexton v. County of Cumberland). 

This means you’ll have to prove that there was true medical exacerbation, and you’ll have to prove the exacerbation was solely the result of your work-related activities. The claim must be based on the exacerbation, and not on the old injury. There are many ways to do this, including medical records, medical tests and images, and witness testimony. We may also have to bring in expert witnesses. 

Denying that an injury or death is work-related is a go-to strategy for most employers. As your workers compensation attorneys we’re here to help you prove otherwise. 

Your compensation amount may be smaller. 

New Jersey law does allow workers compensation insurance …

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What Happens If You’re Accused of Workers Compensation Fraud in New Jersey?

False allegations of workers compensation fraud are quite common. There are some people who would like you to believe that every time someone files a workers compensation claim they’re committing some form of fraud.

Workers compensation companies get to deny claims they believe to be fraudulent, so they’re more than a little incentivized to make fraud allegations. The person so accused faces not only the prospect of absorbing all of their medical bills and lost wages themselves, but the possibility of jail time. Under Section 34:15 – 57.4 of the New Jersey Revised Statute, fraud is a felony. 

Workers compensation fraud is not limited to workers. Employers also commit their own forms of workers compensation fraud, including by failing to carry workers compensation insurance in the first place and by misclassification of employees. Nevertheless, this post specifically addresses allegations of worker fraud.   

Types of Fraud

If a worker does commit fraud there are generally four ways that it happens.

  • Misrepresenting their job status while continuing to collect benefits.
  • Filing claims for injuries that did not occur on the job.
  • Misrepresenting a physical condition for benefits.
  • Misrepresenting preexisting conditions or previous trauma or treatments.

In an era where more workers work remotely we might expect to see more denials based on certain types of fraud. For example, we might see more instances of denials on the basis that the worker’s injury did not occur on the job.

Handling Fraud Allegations

As your New Jersey workers compensation attorneys we can …

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Does New Jersey Workers Compensation Cover a Workplace Shooting?

Workplace shootings are, sadly, becoming much more common. We’re even seeing them in places where we don’t normally expect guns to come out. Workplace violence is on the rise generally, and there are places where the employees have always faced the possibility of violence, such as hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, emergency services, and even convenience stores. Most incidents aren’t as dangerous as a shooting, but the statistics do serve to demonstrate that many employees risk their lives every time they go to work in the morning. 

As the public becomes angrier and better armed it’s possible that anyone who works with customers could be in danger of getting shot on the job. Under New Jersey law, those injuries would be covered by workers compensation.

Any instance of violence in the workplace is covered by workers compensation if:

  • The injury arose out of the course of your employment.
  • You did not instigate the incident.
  • You adhered to all workplace health and safety standards.

There are some cases where employers might have some grounds to try to wriggle out of responsibility for your claim. For example if the shooter was a disgruntled ex who trespassed onto the property for the express purposes of shooting at you then your employer may well claim that the gunshot did not “arise out of the course of your employment.” It might be frustrating to hear yourself being essentially blamed for nearly getting killed, but no employer will generally pay any claim they do not absolutely have …

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In the News: The US Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Medical Cannabis for Workers Compensation Cases

Recently two petitions went before the Supreme Court, both covering states that did not want to cover medical cannabis in workers compensation claims.

States tend to make the argument that the request to be reimbursed for medical marijuana violates federal law. 

Here in New Jersey, courts have already ruled that workers compensation should cover medical cannabis. The case was settled in Hagar vs. MSK Construction. The cases the Supreme Court passed on came out of Minnesota and New Mexico. 

Prior to declining to hear the case, the Supreme Court consulted with the Department of Justice. The DoJ urged the Supreme Court to stay out of it.  

What does it mean that the Supreme Court won’t hear the cases? 

It doesn’t mean anything for your New Jersey workers compensation benefits if medical marijuana is part of your treatment plan. 

If the Supreme Court had heard the case it might have secured cannabis as a covered right for all 50 states, but in this case it also shuts down the possibility that New Jersey might have the court’s backing to stop covering the treatment. 

NJ A1708, a bill that would absolutely require New Jersey workers compensation and personal injury protection (PIP) to cover medical marijuana remains in committee, where it’s been since 10/26/2020. It is unclear whether it will pass any time soon. Nevertheless, the state court ruling is likely to stand as precedent if companies challenge your right to be reimbursed for the use of medical marijuana in the …

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Testifying in Your New Jersey Workers Compensation Claim

While few workers compensation cases go to court, you will at some point have to make a statement. While you may not, strictly speaking, have to “testify,” you may have to make statements in a deposition or answer questions at a settlement hearing. A few employees really will have to testify in the rare event that the case does go to trial.

The thing to realize is that telling your story is important. It’s an opportunity to help everyone understand how the accident has impacted your life.

A good workers compensation attorney takes the time to prepare you for your testimony. We’ll coach you on how to answer questions, on the most likely questions to expect, and on how to answer as effectively as possible. 

Common Questions

Most questions are quite routine. You’ll be asked about your job duties and the physical requirements of your job. You’ll be asked about the facts of the injury: how you sustained it, and what your symptoms were. You’ll be asked about how and whether you reported your injuries.

You’ll also be asked about medical treatment received, and whether you followed all of your doctor’s orders. Work restrictions are another common source of questions, as are whether or not your employer complied with any light duty restrictions on record.

You’ll also be asked about the limitations you face as a result of the injury, and about the ways that your injury has changed your life. While there are no pain and suffering awards in …

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Will New Jersey Workers Compensation Cover Prosthetics?

It’s tragic but true: many work injuries end in amputation. A prosthetic can help restore quality of life and even the ability to continue working, but they are costly. A low-end prosthetic can cost as much as $5000, whereas a high-end prosthetic can cost up to $70,000. A high end prosthetic such as a myoelectric prosthesis offers movable fingers and a considerable return to functionality.  

New Jersey Law pays out an amount of loss of function equal to a number of weeks according to the workers compensation chart. If you lose 25% of your hand or foot function you will be compensated for three weeks of work in addition to what you’re paid while you’re out of work, and in addition to your medical bills. 

The number of weeks varies by the amount of function loss. If you lose 50% of your hand function then you are paid for 150 weeks, an amount which can add up to over $43,000. 

Theoretically the workers compensation company should pay for prosthetics too. Unfortunately they tend to want to pay for the cheapest and least functional prosthetic they can get away with. For example, they might want to fit you for a claw that won’t actually give you any real functionality. You might need to use the loss of functionality award to pay for that amount yourself. Workers compensation insurance will often try to claim that a better prosthetic is not “medically necessary.” 

If you already had a prosthetic and the accident damages …

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Getting Workers Compensation for PTSD in New Jersey

PTSD is back in New Jersey news after a recent proposal to create a temporary task force to study and provide recommendations of the identification and treatment of pandemic-related PTSD, looking for ways to identify new, alternative, and innovative methods to diagnose and treat the disease. 

New Jersey is one of the few states that allows workers compensation payments for PTSD. Yet you must be able to prove that your PTSD stems directly from a workplace incident. 

New Jersey has recognized work-related stress since 1992, though the case was a depression case rather than a PTSD case. Still, it offers groundwork and precedence to have work related mental health injuries recognized. 

These could include violence at work, lingering trauma from another workplace injury, a car accident, or a lasting pattern of abuse or stress from customers or managers. However, workplace stress and abuse can be extremely difficult to prove.

PTSD for Workplace Stress

To prove PTSD for workplace stress you must be able to show:

  • The conditions were stressful, which includes the gradual accumulation of job-related mental stress. 
  • The worker reacted to them as stressful.
  • Those stresses were peculiar to that workplace. For example, police officers, EMTs, and firefighters have an excellent claim that workplace stress is peculiar to their workplaces. So, too, would front line healthcare workers who worked through the pandemic. 
  • A medical professional has rendered an opinion on the psychic disability.
  • The workplace exposure must have caused the PTSD disability.

If you can prove all …

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Fibromyalgia in New Jersey Workers Compensation Claims

Chronic pain and chronic fatigue are growing endemic within the working population. Fibromyalgia, which has no cure, is one such condition. It has no cure, and it can put an end to anyone’s ability to work full-time.

While you may think it is difficult to prove that fibromyalgia would be a work-related injury, the truth is that up to 40% of sufferers end up with fibromyalgia as the result of a “triggering event.” 

To claim workers compensation for this condition, you will need to prove both that you have fibromyalgia, and that the fibromyalgia was caused by workplace conditions. 

Proving You Have Fibromyalgia

Doctors are getting better at diagnosing fibromyalgia. There are specific symptoms they can look for. In addition to chronic fatigue, pain, and cognitive impairments, they can identify specific tender points that hurt when pressure is applied. Doctors can also ask about a group of symptoms and the number of times each week you suffer from those symptoms. There are no specific diagnostic tests for fibromyalgia, though there may be soon. Last year, researchers used machine learning to distinguish the brain scans of those with fibromyalgia from those without, and did so with 93% accuracy.

You will certainly need a diagnosis to prove that you have fibromyalgia. It is an “invisible illness,” which can make it difficult to prove. In addition, workplace doctors will be incentivized to tell you that the disease is “all in your head.” 

Proving Your Fibromyalgia is Work-Related

One way …

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Does NJ Workers Compensation Cover Ambulance Costs?

An ambulance in New Jersey usually costs around $600 plus $10 per mile, which means no ambulance bill is cheap. Plenty of people are afraid of high hospital and medical costs

Yet if you were injured on the job in New Jersey such that you require an ambulance, you do not have to worry. An ambulance is a medical expense, and ambulances are part of the treatment costs. Of course, most employers try to discourage you from calling an ambulance and want you to go to your own doctor instead, but if you need one you should be able to get one without fear. 

New Jersey law allows them to dictate what doctor you can see, but they can’t keep you from going to the ER fi that is where you need to go. Of course, unless you are unconscious you are the one making the call in many cases, but it is ultimately your call to make. 

Note that you will probably see a bill before the workers compensation company does. When that happens, you just provide the ambulance company with your workers compensation claim number, as well as the name and number of the adjuster handling your case. You then send the bill on to the adjuster. 

Once you have done this, the medical provider may not contact you about the bill again.

Keep in mind that because the employer usually wants you to go to your own doctor the adjuster may try to claim the ambulance …

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The Law Office of Albert J. Talone is a NJ Workers Compensation Law Firm committed to meeting the needs of every client. For more information - contact us today.

The Law Office Of Albert J. Talone
The Law Office Of Albert J. Talone is committed to providing for those with Workers Compensation cases throughout New Jersey.
302 N Washington Ave #101
Moorestown
New Jersey
08057
United States

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