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When Can You Sue Your Employer for Injuries Sustained on the Job?

Rudolph Laidlow worked for Hariton Machinery Corp., feeding heated metal bars into a mill.  The machine came with a safety guard to prevent workers’ hands from being caught and shredded. The employer removed the guard whenever the machine was being used and put it on only when federal safety inspectors were on the premises.  The employer ignored several reports of close calls where employees’ gloves got caught in the machine. Management rebuffed repeated requests by Laidlow to put on the safety guard. It was inevitable that someone would get injured, and indeed, Laidlow’s glove got caught and the machine ripped the skin off of his hand.

Does workers’ compensation law ever allow an employee like Laidlow to sue an employer?

In general, workers injured on the job are barred from suing their employers in civil court.  The one major exception is for intentional acts.  If an employer intentionally injures an employee, then the employee may get workers’ compensation benefits and still sue the employer.

So what does this mean for workers like Laidlow?

Laidlow sued. His employer argued that he could not sue because he was limited to his workers’ compensation benefits.  The NJ Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that the employer’s actions might have been intentional.  Intentional, the Court ruled, is not just when an employer wants to hurt an employee, but also when it is clear to the employer that, eventually, an avoidable danger will hurt an employee. The Court imposed standards that a worker must satisfy before the intentional injury claim against the employer would be permitted by the state courts in addition to his workers compensation claim.

Of course, each case is fact-specific.  If you have been injured on the job, speak to one of the attorneys at Hoffman Dimuzio to see how we can help you in your workers’ comp claim, and if appropriate, to pursue additional remedies for you in state court. We will explain your rights and your options and represent your interests during the process. There is no charge for consultation. No attorney’s fee is paid for our representing you unless we obtain benefits for you. Also, any attorney’s fee based on workers compensation benefits obtained must be approved by the workers’ compensation judge.

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Joseph J.  Hoffman, Jr. Attorney Photo
Joseph J. Hoffman, Jr.
Senior Partner

For more than 40 years, Mr. Hoffman has protected the interest of his clients through diligence and hard work on legal matters, both large and small. An honors graduate of Rutgers University Law School and a native of Gloucester County, Mr. Hoffman has won numerous accolades for excellence in the practice of law.

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Kenneth A. DiMuzio, Sr.
Senior Partner

An attorney with over 45 years of professional experience, Mr. DiMuzio concentrates his practice on personal injury and workers’ compensation matters. A graduate of Georgetown University Law School and a native of Gloucester County, Mr. DiMuzio has been honored time and again for his professionalism and ethics in the practice of law.

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Ernest L. Alvino, Jr.
Attorney

About Ernest L. Alvino, Jr. concentrates his practice in the area of workplace injuries; construction accidents; product injuries; trucking accidents; auto injuries; medical negligence and crime victim advocacy. Ernie is a lifelong Gloucester County resident, living in Mullica Hill with his wife and children. Ernie worked his way through school as a Teamster and construction…

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Jeremiah J. Atkins
Attorney

About Mr. Atkins joined the firm of Hoffman DiMuzio in February 2010. Mr. Atkins represents individuals and corporate clients in commercial and employment litigation. Mr. Atkins’ practice covers a wide variety of employment-related matters before New Jersey State and Federal courts, with a focus on discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, family leave and whistleblowing claims. Mr.…

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Peter J. Bonfiglio, III
Attorney

About Mr. Bonfiglio concentrates his practice in the area of municipal court with an emphasis on defense of individuals charged with driving while intoxicated and/or refusal to submit to a breath test. Pete resides in Gloucester Township, Camden County with his wife and two of his three children.  In addition to his law practice, he…

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