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Cherry Hill Law Blog

Looking back at 2017 and workplace safety

It's that time of year for reflection. We look back at what the year brought us here in Cherry Hill, across the nation and around the world, and try to assess how we all fared over the past 12 months. A recent newspaper editorial on workplace injuries in 2017 says it is time for the U.S. "to make a collective resolution to reverse numbers clearly heading in the wrong direction."

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a report stating that on-the-job fatalities climbed to 5,190 last year. That jaw-dropping figure is 7 percent than the number of workplace fatalities from the year before. This is the third year in a row in which the total of deadly workplace incidents has risen -- a disquieting trend, to say the least.

Social Security Disability approval is harder than ever

Every year, the Social Security Administration releases a report about its disability benefits program. The most recent "Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits" report from the federal agency makes it clear that it is harder than ever before to gain approval for benefits.

Believe it or not, but the report shows that there are still more than 4,000 outstanding applications for SSD that were filed in 2009. That means that when those folks applied, Barack Obama was in his very first year of the presidency. And the Social Security Administration has still not decided one way or the other on their disability claims.

Common-sense advice for avoiding common accident types

The holidays are here and the hectic pace on the streets, roads and highways in and around Cherry Hill is picking up. One of the last things anyone puts on their shopping list is a car crash that will result in injuries, but unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents happen, often involving safe drivers who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Safety expert and author Steve Casner has analyzed data collected for the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey to determine which types of motor vehicle crashes are most common. Casner wrote "Careful: A User’s Guide to Our Injury-Prone Minds."

New Jersey parents in mourning

Sometimes it seems as if the universe is an unjust place. We read recently in a New Jersey newspaper of a designated driver who was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. The 29-year-old designated driver was a former New Jersey resident whose parents still live in Gloucester County.

The U.S. Coast Guard information systems technician was killed in a wrong-way highway crash on his way to pick up his wife, who had been at a party. He did not drink, according to the NJ.com article, and often served as a designated driver.

Three holiday dangers: distracted, drunken and drowsy drivers

Cherry Hill sits in a near-perfect spot for holiday travelers. In about two hours, people can hit the road and be in New York City, Baltimore or Washington DC and in just a few minutes, be across the river and in Philadelphia. With Thanksgiving getting closer by the minute, it's a good time to remember to watch for three holiday road dangers: distracted, drunken and drowsy drivers.

While much of our attention on traffic safety is these days focused on distracted and impaired drivers, fatigued drivers can be just as dangerous. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that drowsy driving results in approximately 320,000 crashes each year on U.S. roads.

New Jersey contractor hit hard with safety violation fines

The fine leveled by the federal government's Occupational Safety and Health Administration on a New Jersey contractor is enough to get anyone's attention: $191,215. OSHA says DH Construction LLC has been allowing workers to use unsecured scaffolding that didn't have enough planks for proper flooring. The company was also cited for failing to provide adequate protection to its construction workers from falling objects.

The fine also includes a violation for putting scaffolding too near power lines. Anyone with experience in the industry knows that any of these violations have the potential to result in construction accidents, serious injuries and even fatalities.

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).

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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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