Of the questions that many New Jersey workers have concerning WEAR and TEAR™ injuries – those injuries that do not appear suddenly, but which develop over a significant time period – is whether a claim can be filed against a former employer. Depending upon the specific facts surrounding the worker’s injury, the answer is often “yes.”
Hypothetical Fact Pattern
Consider a hypothetical casino worker, who has worked as a food and beverage server for 20 years. That’s 20 years of bending down to pick up heavy food-laden trays. That’s 20 years of raising heavy loads above shoulder level. That’s 20 years of stooping down within a tight work area to retrieve utensils, glasses, and plates. During those 20 years, the server’s back experienced thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands repetitive micro-traumas. In 20 years, those repetitive traumas add up.
What started out as an occasional tingle in the lower back may have progressed to full blown lower back pain. Unable to bear the continuous pain, the worker seeks medical help. The physician advises that the server should seek out less strenuous work in another industry. The server finds another job, but it comes with significantly less pay.
New Jersey Law Allows a Claim to Be Filed Against a Former Employer
Generally speaking, as long as the New Jersey worker filed his or her injury claim within two years of the date when the worker knew, or reasonably should have known, that the medical condition was related to the employment, he or she could be entitled to benefits. Another important thing to remember: The benefits payable for WEAR and TEAR™ claims are identical to accident-related workers’ compensation benefits.
Medical Evidence is Usually Important to Proving the Claim
In most cases, medical evidence provided by your treating physician or physicians is crucial. The physician is not required to speak with absolute certainty, but he or she must provide specialized testimony and reporting to support your claim. Filing a WEAR and TEAR™ claim, particularly against a former employer, usually requires the assistance of an experienced, skilled workers’ compensation attorney.
Do You Suspect That You May Have Suffered a WEAR and TEAR™ Injury?
Do you have back pain, joint pain (particularly in the hands and wrists), or other symptoms that may be related to long periods of repetitive stresses within the workplace? Have you been advised by a physician that your condition is related to the work you have performed? Has an insurance adjuster or other representative told you that your condition isn’t compensable because it’s associated with aging or due to some pre-existing condition? If so, it is time that you sought aggressive, knowledgeable legal counsel. You deserve representation by a firm that has achieved success with WEAR and TEAR™ injuries. Remember, however, that the passage of time can be fatal to your claim.
At Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo, we have helped many hard-working folks just like you. Call or contact us for a free consultation. Talk to an experienced lawyer who can help you sort out your rights. We can be reached by phone at 888-675-7607, or you can complete our online form. We look forward to discussing your situation with you.