The New Jersey workers compensation act recognizes two types of claims. The first is traumatic injury claims. These claims are governed by N.J.S.A. 34:15-7. These types of claims involve a one-time trauma, physical or psychiatric in nature. Examples would be a Dept. of Public Works (DPW) worker stepping into a hidden pothole or a worker injuring his/her back while lifting a heavy object.
The second type of claims are occupational disease claims. These claims are governed by N.J.S.A. 34:15-31. These types of claims involve injuries caused by repetitive activity or exposures over a period of days, months, or even years. An example would be a worker who becomes ill after working with asbestos or lead paint.
The standard for proving each of these claims is different and there are also specific time limitations that you must be aware of when filing such claims. This period of time is typically referred to as the 'statute of limitations'. Each type of claim also has notice provisions for how and when you need to inform your employer of your injury.
When our office handles occupational disease claims, there are four criteria we use to analyze the potential of the claim:
1. Whether the claim occurred during the course of work.
2. Whether the disease arises out of work. As lawyers we refer to the last the "causation concept" or "causal relationship."
3. Occupational disease claims require proof of all the above elements but they also require that the disease is "due ... to causes and conditions which are or were characteristic of or peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process or place of employment;" and
4. That the contribution of work to the disease is "in a material degree."
If you feel that you may have been injured at work or have questions about anything discussed in this blog, please feel free to contact me at any time by email or call 201-794-2332.