In order to file a successful claim for workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey, you need to be able to prove that your injury is work-related. While this will not be an issue in many cases (e.g., if you fell at work and your coworkers witnessed the accident, or if you were injured in a vehicle collision while driving for work), it often presents a challenge for workers who are suffering from WEAR and TEAR (repetitive stress) injuries.
What Is a WEAR and TEAR Injury?
A WEAR and TEAR injury is any work-related injury that develops over time, as opposed to resulting from an isolated accident. For example, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) are all common types of WEAR and TEAR injuries. While these injuries might not have the same traumatic effects as injuries from falls, collisions, and other types of accidents, they can be equally costly in terms of medical bills and lost wages.
How Do You Prove That You Have a WEAR and TEAR Injury?
If you simply tell your employer that your back or wrist hurts, this is not going to be enough to secure workers’ compensation benefits. You must prove that you are suffering from a debilitating medical condition, and this starts with obtaining a diagnosis from a licensed medical professional. However, in New Jersey, employers have the right to choose the doctors who treat their employees’ job-related injuries. So, if you believe that your WEAR and TEAR injury is work-related, you must notify your employer and see an approved physician.
If you see your own doctor, your medical expenses might not be covered. However, if your employer refuses to refer you to a “company doctor” (e.g., because they do not believe your injury is work-related), then you can seek treatment from a doctor of your choosing. That said, due to the stringent requirements of New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law, we would encourage you to speak with an attorney to make sure that your medical expenses qualify for reimbursement.
How Do You Prove the Cause of Your WEAR and TEAR Injury?
As we mentioned above, in addition to proving that you have a WEAR and TEAR injury, you also need to be able to prove that your injury is work related. This can be challenging if your injury has developed over time, particularly for injuries such as lower back pain and osteoarthritis that can result from a variety of different work-related and non-work-related tasks.
In order to prove the cause of your WEAR and TEAR injury, you will need to make sure that you provide the appropriate information to your doctor, and you will also want to work closely with an experienced attorney. The key is to collect as much evidence as possible without making assumptions or mistakes that could call the cause of your injury into question. It will be necessary to demonstrate that your injury is the type that results from repetitive strain in the work environment, and you will need to be able to show that you personally perform repetitive tasks that are consistent with the nature of your injury. Depending on your injury, these could include:
- Climbing ladders or stairs
- Lifting or pulling heavy objects
- Sitting for long periods of time
- Squatting or bending
- Twisting your waist or wrists
- Typing on a keyboard
- Other strenuous and repetitive physical activity
What If Your Employer Denies Your WEAR and TEAR Injury Claim?
Due to the challenges involved in securing workers’ compensation benefits for WEAR and TEAR injuries, many injured workers in New Jersey have their claims denied. For this reason, we recommend that you hire an attorney before you file your claim, if possible.
If you have already filed your claim and your employer (or their insurance company) has denied coverage, you should speak with an attorney promptly to determine what options you have available. It may be possible to overcome your denial by submitting additional proof of the cause of your injury; and, if necessary, your attorney can file an appeal with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Discuss Your WEAR and TEAR Injury Claim with a Trusted Attorney for Free
In order for a workplace injury to be compensable under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law, it does not have to be a sudden, acute injury. In other words, an injury does not have to occur in a sudden workplace accident in order for you to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If you are in pain due to a WEAR and TEAR injury you believe you suffered as a result of your job, our workers’ compensation attorneys can help you secure the benefits to which you are legally entitled.
Petro Cohen, P.C. has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ comp. The firm received the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell – the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials – in Professional Excellence and Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. The law firm has also been recognized for 10 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers on their annual “Best Law Firm” list.
In addition to the firm’s stellar reputation, the department head, Frank Petro, is respected locally, regionally, and nationally as a leading attorney in this specialized field. He has been recognized as an outstanding attorney by Best Lawyers® every year since 1995 and by Super Lawyers® every year since 2005. Moreover, he has achieved a rating of “Superb” on the leading lawyer-review website, Avvo®, the highest achievable rating.
Together with Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, and Daniel Rosenthal, our New Jersey workers’ comp attorneys at Petro Cohen have more than 100 years of combined experience, having successfully handled thousands of litigated workers’ comp cases throughout New Jersey. This experience and winning track record means that you are going to have a skilled New Jersey work injury lawyer who will work for you.
To get started with a free, no-obligation consultation for your WEAR and TEAR or other work injury, call us directly at 888-675-7607 or request an appointment online today.