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Court Discusses Evidence Sufficient to Oppose a Workers' Compensation Claim


In many instances in which an employee suffers an injury at work, the employer will argue that the harm was not work-related. Thus, the employee must file a petition seeking workers’ compensation benefits, and the court will weigh the evidence produced by each party to determine if the employee’s claim is valid. Only certain evidence will be considered, however, and an employer that fails to introduce valid evidence may ultimately lose the right to object to the employee’s claims, as discussed in a recent New Jersey workers’ compensation case. If you were hurt at work and your employer is disputing that you are owed benefits, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney regarding your claims.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, who worked as a laborer for the defendant, suffered injuries during the course of his employment. Specifically, he hurt his back, shoulder, and neck while lifting heavy logs. He then filed a petition seeking workers’ compensation benefits. The defendant filed an answer past the deadline, arguing that the plaintiff’s injuries were not work-related. The plaintiff then filed a motion for medical and temporary disability benefits (MMT). In support of the MMT, the plaintiff provided an affidavit of his attorney that set forth the facts regarding the plaintiff’s injury and treatment and stated the plaintiff’s physician recommended that he undergo surgery.

Allegedly, the defendant refused to authorize the surgery. As such, the plaintiff asked the court to compel the defendant to provide treatment by a certain date. The defendant did not reply to the MMT until the day before the hearing and did not provide an affidavit in support of its position. Thus, the court considered the MMT as unopposed and granted it, after which the defendant appealed.

Evidence Sufficient to Oppose a Claim for Benefits

In New Jersey, the workers’ compensation division rules govern workers’ compensation proceedings. Pursuant to the rules, a party may submit an affidavit or medical report in support of or in opposition to an MMT. Additionally, the rules provide that, in certain instances, a certification may be used to support or object to a motion in lieu of the oath or verification typically required. Specifically, the certification must be signed and dated and must state that the statements set forth are true and that if the statements made are deliberately false, the signer may be subject to punishment.

In the subject case, the defendant’s late submission merely contained a letter that was not based on the defendant’s attorney’s personal knowledge and set forth speculatory facts and assertions. Further, the letter was not signed and did not contain the appropriate certification. As such, the appellate court found that the lower court properly considered the plaintiff’s motion as unopposed, as the defendant’s documents were facially insufficient.

Meet with a Skillful New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney

When an employer fails to acknowledge that an employee’s injury occurred at work, it can impair an employee’s rights. If you were hurt at work and your employer refuses to pay you benefits, the New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can assist you in seeking any compensation you may be owed. We can be contacted through our online form or at (934) 200-5372 to set up a meeting.