Jacobs, Schwalbe & Petruzzelli, P.C.
Assisting New Jersey Clients Since 1977
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Cherry Hill Law Blog

The struggle to keep senior parents safe on the road

“If you live to be my age, you will see,” the 85-year-old New Jersey resident says. "You can’t do anything. You can’t go anywhere...sometimes you need a change of scenery.”
That desire for a change in scenery is when danger rears its head. The nation was in the middle of the Great Depression when Dolores was born. World War II was still a decade away. Television didn't exist yet. So when the octogenarian gets behind the wheel of a car, her daughter worries that her mom could cause a car accident that injures or kills someone.

Last winter, Dolores was in her car waiting as a police officer made a traffic stop. She grew impatient, though, and pulled into the next lane to pass the cruiser. As she started to go by the police car, she looked to see who the officer was talking to -- that momentary distraction was enough to cause her to slam into the front section of the cruiser.

Social Security Disability backlog tops 1 million

It is a heartbreaking statistic: more than a million Americans are now on a waiting list to see whether they qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The average wait is now nearly two years, the Associated Press reports.

The more than a million people are waiting to have their appeals heard, which means they have already had an SSDI claim denied. For many, the decision by the Social Security Administration (SSA) is a life or death one: they will not be able to make it without SSDI benefits.

Looking for solutions to wrong-way car accidents

It is about a two-hour drive from Cherry Hill to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The town is about a quarter of the size of our city, but it has something that we do not: inclusion in a National Transportation Safety Board study of wrong-way driving accidents.

The study looked at the severity of the crashes (they are among the worst possible car accidents), causes of the crashes and remedies for reducing wrong-way driving and head-on collisions.

WORK- RELATED AGGRAVATION OF PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

It is a basic tenet of New Jersey Workers' Compensation law that the employer takes the employee as it finds him. This rule most often finds application in cases where a subsequent work-related accidental injury or occupational disease is accelerated, activated, worsened, or contributed to by a previous disease, as distinguished from a physical disability of an orthopedic nature. An employee is not precluded from pursuing Workers' Compensation benefits under the requirement that the injury arise out of the employment, as long as the proofs demonstrate that the petitioner's condition was "aggravated, accelerated or combined with the pre-existing disease or infirmity to produce the disability for which the compensation is sought." Sexton v. County of Cumberland/Cumberland Manor, 404 N.J. Super. 542, 555 (App. Div. 2009).

REPETETIVE MOTION AND RELATED INJURIES

When the New Jersey Workers' Compensation Act was first enacted in 1911, there was no provision for compensable occupational diseases. If the worker was not injured in an accident or trauma, in the traditional sense, it was not compensable. The Act was amended in 19 24 to extend the protections afforded by the workers compensation system to certain specified occupational conditions related to metal poisoning or chemical exposure. However, it was not until 1949, when additional amendments were enacted, that orthopedic injuries caused by repetitive or continuous trauma become compensable. The standard for establishing a "compensable occupational disease" is proving that the disease arose out of and in the course of employment, and was due to causes and conditions which are or were characteristic of, or peculiar to, a particular trade, occupation, process or employment. The statute was further amended in 1980 when the requirements of causation were enhanced to read that the disease had to be due, in a material degree, to causes and conditions which are or were characteristic of a particular trade, occupation, or process of employment. Additionally, the statute was further amended to preclude compensability for any condition which arose due to the natural aging process. Now, as with any other workers' compensation claim, the key issue is whether petitioner can prove that the damage alleged due to repetitive stress is causally related to the type of stress that is characteristic of, or peculiar to, the employment.

PSYCHIATRIC AND MENTAL INJURIES

Section 12 provides for compensation to employees for injuries producing partial or total disability which includes psychiatric injuries. Sections 30 through 35 cover occupational disease claims which would allow for recovery for a compensable psychiatric occupational disease claim. Psychiatric claims can be divided into two types. The first is the psychiatric claim arising from a traumatic or occupational physical injury such as the possible depression which would accompany the amputation of a portion of the body or a psychiatric reaction to traumatic event such as witnessing the death of a co-worker. The Courts have routinely awarded psychiatric benefits both by way of payment of medical benefits and compensation benefits for those types of claims.

Wrong-way New Jersey Turnpike crash: 1 dead, 2 injured

It is just about the most violent type of crash that can happen: a head-on collision between two vehicles going in opposite directions on the New Jersey Turnpike. A recent head-on Turnpike crash was the result of a wrong-way driver just a few miles from us in Cherry Hill.

The Mount Laurel crash left the 21-year-old Florida wrong-way driver dead.

OCCUPATIONAL STRESS CLAIMS

1. Establishing Stress Claims

N.J.S.A. 34:15-30 provides that an employer is responsible for an occupational disease resulting in injury or death to an employee. This section does not differentiate between an occupational disease as a result of an exposure to deleterious substances or cumulative trauma. This Section contains an exception if the injury or death by occupational disease is caused by willful, self-exposure to a known hazard or the employee's willful failure to make use of reasonable and proper guards or personal protective devices furnished by the employer. However, the exception is an affirmative defense that must be proven by the employer who must show that use of protective devices is a requirement of the employment and the employer properly documents that despite repeated warnings, the employee has willfully failed to use the devices. This exception does not apply to emergent situations, though emergent circumstances often suggest a traumatic event and one that does not occur over time. Most occupational claims are for exposures to circumstances or stressors that occur over time.

New Jersey business faces millions in OSHA violation penalty fees

A company that operates in New Jersey is facing $1.9 million in penalties from the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The violations are many, a total of 51 safety and health violations were cited.

Why is the company facing such high penalties? Part of the reason for the steep fines is the fact that these violations were deemed "willful." This was supported by the agency's contention that the business had repeatedly been warned and yet failed to comply with federal safety and health standards. 

What is the difference between SSDI and SSI benefits?

If you live in New Jersey and need to pursue disability benefits through the U.S. Social Security Administration, it is important to understand the differences between the two main types of disability benefit programs. Many people confuse Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income because the acronyms commonly used to reference them are so similar, but there are important distinctions between the two types. 

Social Security administers two disability programs. Social Security pays disability benefits (SSD) to you and certain members of your family if you have worked long enough and have a medical condition that has prevented you from working or is expected to prevent you from working for at least 12 months or end in death. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays benefits using the same definition of disability but instead of work credits you must meet certain income and resource limitations. SSI is based on need. 

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Jacobs, Schwalbe & Petruzzelli, P.C.
Woodcrest Pavilion
Ten Melrose Avenue, Suite 340
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003

Phone: 856-375-1028
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