Proper trial preparation is the key to a successful Worker's Compensation claim outcome. A recent NJ Appellate Division opinion emphasizes the importance of appealable issues and having the necessary evidence available.
Workers’ compensation involves multiple claims and summary adversarial proceedings, but it is best to prepare every claim for trial rather than for settling each case. This approach maximizes the settlement potential and ensures you are fully equipped for a successful trial and appeal.
ISSUES NOT PRESERVED FOR APPEAL
The employer/owner did not receive adequate statutory notice of a lapse in insurance policy, and the employer did not preserve that issue at the trial for an appeal. As a result, the judge found in favor of the petitioner.
“The coverage matter proceeded to trial on the scheduled date of May 7, 2019. Hartford was unable to present the specified witnesses to testify about the alleged nonrenewal. The judge found that Hartford's failure to provide these witnesses denied the petitioner a speedy and efficient resolution of his claim. The judge also rejected Hartford's attempt to withdraw the coverage motion and file a new motion, finding that these actions contradicted the pre-trial memorandum and notice requirements. The judge also denied Hartford's original motion to dismiss with prejudice, thus holding coverage to be in effect at the time of the accident.”
COLLATERAL DISPOSITIVE ISSUES
The court also addressed a collateral issue the employer/insurance company raised that the accident occurred outside of the "course of employment" due to a deviation from work. However, the trial judge ruled that the worker's injury occurred during employment, even though he was not in the company vehicle at the time of the injury and had not taken a direct route. The facts presented in the trial indicated no deviation from employment.
“Instead of traveling directly to the funeral home, petitioner took a drive to Pennsylvania, four miles from his shop, to enjoy the nice weather. The parties acknowledge that a direct route from the shop to the funeral home was approximately fifteen miles, but petitioner elected a longer route, through Pennsylvania, which would have been approximately twenty-six miles. However, the judge found that shortly after entering Pennsylvania, petitioner exited the 13 South jughandle to proceed to the funeral home. Accordingly, the judge found that after taking the jughandle, petitioner was back on a work-related mission prior to the subject accident.”
In conclusion, proper trial preparation is crucial in Worker's Compensation claims. The Pozadas v. Capital Iron Associates, LLC, et al., DOCKET NO. A-0162-22, 2023 WL 7119507, Decided October 30, 2023 (NJ App. Div. 2023) opinion highlights the importance of appealable issues, having the necessary evidence available, and being fully equipped for a successful trial and appeal.
UNPUBLISHED OPINION. CHECK COURT RULES BEFORE CITING.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
This opinion shall not “constitute precedent or be binding upon any court.” Although it is posted on the internet, this opinion is binding only on the parties in the case, and its use in other cases is limited. R. 1:36-3. Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne, NJ, is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 firstname.lastname@example.org has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.
Blog: Workers ' Compensation
LinkedIn Group: Injured Workers Law & Advocacy Group
Author: "Workers' Compensation Law" West-Thomson-Reuters
Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L., The essentials of trial preparation, www.gelmans.com (11/01/2023), https://workers-compensation.blogspot.com/2023/11/the-essentials-of-trial-preparation.html