Q What are the types of accidents and exposures recognized by the New Jersey Workers Compensation Statute?
The New Jersey Workers Compensation Statute recognizes three main types of job related injuries. They are as follows:
Specific Accident Claims - These are regular, everyday accidents. They include, but are not limited to, falling down, motor vehicle accidents, accidents involving machinery, fights with fellow workers, and lifting injuries. Please note, an injury is still covered under Workers Comp even if the worker caused his own accident. The only issue is whether the worker was injured while performing his job.
Occupational Exposure Claims - Every day on the job an employee may be exposed to harmful elements. These include dusts, chemicals, asbestos and other noxious elements. Over time, this exposure may cause a worker to suffer lung disease, cancer, heart problems or mesothelioma. A worker who suffers from this type of Occupational Exposure is entitled to receive Workers Compensation benefits. To get compensation the occupational exposure does not need to be the sole cause of the disability. It must only contribute to the disability to a "material degree". By example, assume a cigarette smoker works at a job with exposure to various dusts and chemicals. He then contracts lung disease. Although the cigarette smoking may have contributed to the lung disease, as long as the work exposure also contributed to a "material degree" the exposure will be compensable.
Repetitive Motion Claims - The repetitive stress and strain of a job can cause a work related injury. Common examples are jobs where a worker has to lift heavy objects constantly, causing back injury. A job that requires constant typing can cause carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel. Workers that are required to stand or walk all day may sustain injuries to the feet or knees. With Repetitive Motion Claims there is no one particular incident that caused the worker to sustain his injury. However, over time the repetitive wear and tear of the job caused the workers body to break down. A worker who suffers from this type of Repetitive Motion Injury is entitled to receive Workers Compensation benefits.