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Monday, April 23, 2012

NJ Supreme Court To Rule on Several Critical Issues

The NJ Supreme Court has before it three issues of critical importance concerning workers' compensation including: the standard of proof in a fatal heart claim; remedy for the failure of an insurance company to provide medical care, and the "exclusivity rule." These decisions have the potential to be landmark decisions.

1. Standard of Proof in a Fatal Heart Claim: Does the record support this workers' compensation claim under N.J.S.A. 34:15-7.2, which sets the standard of proof governing claims based on injury or death from cardiovascular causes?

Workers' Compensation benefits were awarded for a pulmonary embolism causally related to sedentary work activity. A NJ Appellate Court awarded benefits for the development of a pulmonary embolism precipitated by the inactivity of sitting long hours at a desk job.

Certification granted: 2/14/12
Posted: 2/14/12
A-71-11 James P. Renner v. AT&T (068744)

2.  Remedy for the Failure of the Insurance Company to Provide Medical Care:
May an employee who suffered a work-related injury pursue a common-law cause of action against a workers’ compensation carrier for willful failure to comply with court orders compelling it to provide medical treatment when the delay or denial of treatment causes the employee’s condition to worsen?

The NJ Supreme is going to review the procedure to bring bad faith claims against employers and insurance companies in workers' compensation actions. The Court accepted for review a case holding that workers' compensation bad faith claims are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the workers' compensation hearing official.

Certification granted 6/7/11
Posted 6/10/11
Argued: 3/26/12
A-112-10 Wade Stancil v. ACE USA (067640)

3. The Exclusivity Rule:

Under the circumstances of this case, which include a finding by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that the accident was the result of a “willful violation” of its regulations, did the employer’s action constitute an “intentional wrong” that would preclude immunity under N.J.S.A. 34:15-8 of the workers’ compensation statute?

NJ Courts have held that trench accidents were not a mere fact of industrial life and were beyond intent of Act's immunity provision. A claim was permitted directly against the employer in addition to the workers' compensation action. 

Certification granted 1/27/11
Posted 1/28/11
Argued: 10/12/11
A-69-10 Kenneth Van Dunk, Sr. v. Reckson Associates Realty Corp. (066949)

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