Permanent Disability Benefits Can Be Paid Even If Worker isn’t “Helpless”
In the past, when it came to employment possibilities, many so-called experts told New Jersey workers that economic security was a three-step process:
- Find something you’re good at
- Learn how to do it well
- Stick to it, and in the long run, the economics will work themselves out
Having a Niche Can Actually Be Limiting in Some Cases
While that sometimes happens, there are other situations in which staying in a line of work for a long period of time – particularly if the work is strenuous – can actually lead to difficulties if the worker suffers a traumatic injury or develops a WEAR and TEAR™ injury over a protracted period of time. The worker, who has devoted his or her work life to attaining a special set of work skills, finds that he or she can no longer perform them. While the worker isn’t what one might call “helpless,” he or she cannot find a job within the medical limitations. Does the workers’ compensation system provide any sort of relief for these workers who have devoted so much to their work?
“Odd Lot” Doctrine
The good news is that a number of states, including New Jersey, recognize that sometimes a worker finds himself or herself to be “an odd lot” when it comes to the labor market. Under the “odd lot” doctrine, a judge may consider factors beyond physical and neuropsychiatric impairments, such as age, education, background, training, and substantial unlikelihood of finding employment [see Lister v. J.B. Eurell Co., 234 N.J. Super. 64, 75, 560 A.2d 89 (App. Div. 1989)]. Under appropriate circumstances, the disabled worker can be awarded permanent and total disability benefits, in spite of the fact that he or she has some physical capabilities remaining.
Judge Cannot Consider “Odd Lot” Factors in Every Claim
As one might imagine, there have to be some limitations on the use of the odd lot doctrine. Otherwise, virtually any injured worker might contend that his or her particular injury, coupled with their age, lack of education, background, etc., caused permanent and total disability. Under New Jersey law [N.J.S.A. § 34:15-36], the workers’ compensation judge may not consider odd lot factors unless the injured worker is determined to be at least 75 percent disabled by the physical and neuropsychiatric impairment.
You Work Hard; Now Let Us Work Hard For You!
Have you suffered a work-related injury? Have you been told by a doctor that you have physical limitations, such as lifting restrictions? Do you have nagging pain in your lower back, in your arms, or in your wrists? Have you developed shoulder or knee pain over time? Have you sought to return to work, but can’t seem to find a job based upon your limitations – physical, mental, educational, or related to your age? You may have a valid “odd lot” claim.
At Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo, we have both the skill and experience required to investigate and push forward your claim for recovery. We have helped many hard-working folks like you who have given years to their jobs only now to find out that they cannot return to work due to an injury. Call or contact Petro Cohen us for a free consultation. Talk with a hard-working New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyer to find out how to recover money to pay for your medical treatment, physical therapy, and lost earnings. We can be reached by phone at 888-675-7607 or complete our online form. We look forward to discussing your situation with you.