New Jersey and New York dispute jurisdiction in workers’ comp case

Workers' who are injured on the job can face a number of issues attempting to get their workers' comp claim approved. Jurisdiction is one example.

Workers' compensation is a system of benefits that is designed to help ensure that injured workers receive compensation to cover basic living expenses and the cost of treatment for their injuries within a timely manner. Unfortunately, the system does not always work as smoothly as it should.

It is not uncommon for a valid claim to get dismissed. Workers' comp providers will cite various reasons for this denial, and one such reason is headed to the state's highest court for review. The reason: jurisdiction.

Before getting into the details of the dispute, it is important to note that the worker will likely receive benefits in light of the jurisdictional issues.

What workers' comp issue is headed to New Jersey's Supreme Court?

Jurisdiction is a legal term that essentially involves the question of which court can hear a case. The case, Keith Williams v. Raymours Furniture Co Inc , involves a resident of New Jersey who accepted a position with a furniture company in New York. The company offered the worker the job over the phone, while the worker was in his home in New Jersey. The worker accepted the position while in New Jersey. The worker was stationed at a warehouse in New York and during the course of his employment he was injured. The injury occurred when he tripped over a hand truck. The fall resulted in a fractured elbow.

One year later, the worker filed a workers' comp claim in New Jersey. The furniture company denied the request, stating that New Jersey did not have jurisdiction. The lower courts agreed and dismissed the claim. The worker appealed the decision.

On appeal, the court found in favor of the worker. It noted that the treatise "Larson's Workers' Compensation Law" provides six grounds to assert jurisdiction: the place the injury occurred, the place the contract for employment was made, the place that the employment occurred, the place that the industry was located, the place the worker lived or the place that the parties accepted within the contract. The court stated that these grounds should apply. As such, the appellate court held that since the worker was offered employment in New Jersey and lives in New Jersey, the state should have jurisdiction over the claim.

How will the New Jersey Supreme Court decide?

A recent piece in the New Jersey Law Journal discusses the case, noting that previous case law has supported that jurisdiction should exist in the location the injured occurred, the location the injured worker and employer agreed upon employment, the location of employment and the location the worker lives. This precedent along with the cited treatise could result in a ruling in favor of the worker.

What does this mean for injured workers in New Jersey?

The case draws attention to the many issues that can arise when disputing a workers' comp claim. Even claims that appear clear can get caught up in court. These types of cases are always very fact sensitive and can lead to prosecution. In some cases, the dispute can result in the need for testimony. As a result, it is wise for those who are navigating these issues to seek legal counsel. Your attorney will help build a workers' comp case to your specific accident, better ensuring a favorable outcome.