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Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury

PictureWorkers’ Compensation:
    Anytime you are injured while in the course and scope of your employment, you are entitled to workers compensation benefits from your employer or your employer’s insurance carrier. You do not need to prove that anyone was at fault for causing your injury or condition only that you sustained an injury while on the job. As detailed below there are four basic workers’ compensation benefits – (1) Medical Benefits, (2) Temporary Disability and (3) Permanent Partial Disability Benefits and (4) Permanent Total Disability Benefits.

There are two types of claims in workers’ compensation – injuries from accidents and injuries from “occupational claims”. Each of these claims have particular notice and Statute of Limitation requirements. It is important for you and your co-workers to be aware of these requirements in order to protect your rights.

In addition to accidents, workers’ compensation benefits are due and owing for injuries which are due or caused by “conditions which are or were characteristic of or peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process or place of employment”. Typical of these claims are asbestos claims, carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive use of hands, or low back injuries from repeated heavy lifting.

The workers’ compensation system is unique in that it provides a mechanism for the injured employee to reopen a settled claim. This is called a Modification of Formal Award and must be made within two years from the date of last payment of a benefit. In order to receive additional benefits, the employee must show a material worsening of his condition by objective credible medical evidence. If this is proven then the injured employee may once again be entitled to medical benefits, temporary disability benefits and/or additional permanent partial disability benefits.

While this summary provides the basics of some areas of workers’ compensation benefits it does not cover all of the issues that arise in workers’ compensation cases. Please contact us for a free consultation if you have any questions concerning work related injuries.

Personal Injury:
    In the legal sense, personal injury is a type of tort or civil wrong where harm is caused to one individual because another individual failed to use reasonable care. Personal injury law overlaps quite a bit with litigation law. The law recognizes a tort as grounds (legal reasons) to sue the offender in order to recover for losses caused by an injury or other type of harm, including psychological. This is referred to as recovery for damages and may involve expected future losses in addition to actual present losses. Some of the damages one may sue for are reasonable medical expenses, property damages, pain and suffering, loss of earnings capacity, emotional distress, loss of consortium or companionship, and legal costs and attorney fees. The main goal of tort law to make the injured party whole again and to discourage others from committing the same offense.

With personal injury law, liability is a key factor. Liability is determined by showing that the individual who caused the harm did so because of a failure to exercise reasonable care. Further, it must be shown that it was foreseeable that this failure could result in the injury or harm that did occur to the other party. A finding of reckless or negligent action may result in a judgment of liability. There are various defenses to a claim of liability. For example, if the injured party knew that the activity in which he was engaged when he was injured was dangerous, the other party may assert assumption of the risk, claiming that the injured party bears all the responsibility for his injury. Other defenses are pre-existing condition and intervening causes.