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New Jersey Court Discusses Elements of a Third-Party Claim for Work Related Injuries


Typically, when an employee in New Jersey suffers an injury in the workplace, New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Law provides the exclusive remedy for the employee to pursue compensation from the employer. In many instances, however, an injured employee may be able to pursue claims against other people or entities that caused the employee’s injuries. The elements of a third-party application for a work-related injury were discussed in a recent New Jersey case in which an employee suffered injuries while employed as a harbor worker. If you sustained an injury at work, it is advisable to contact a seasoned New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue.

Factual Background

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as a harbor worker for a company that conducted terminal operations on a boat that was owned by the defendant. The defendant’s practice was to tie down vehicles that were being transported and to remove the ties and store them before stevedores boarded the boat to remove the vehicles. However, on one occasion, the defendant failed to stow the ties, and the plaintiff tripped over the ties and suffered injuries. The plaintiff brought an action against the defendant pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), alleging negligence. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, which the plaintiff opposed.

Third-Party Claims for Work-Related Injuries

Upon review, the court noted that the Act provided that when an employee covered under the Act suffers an injury due to the negligence of the vessel, the employee may pursue claims against the vessel as a third party. The Act did not set forth an explanation as to the acts or omissions that would qualify as negligence. The court explained, however, that owners of ships have a duty to exercise reasonable care in turning the ships over to stevedoring contractors, which includes the duty to warn of latent defects that the stevedore would not anticipate and are not obvious.

In the subject case, the defendant did not allege that the plaintiff’s negligence claims were insufficient as a matter of law to allow the plaintiff to recover damages. Instead, the defendant argued that the plaintiff failed to obtain a summons from the clerk of court and therefore did not have jurisdiction over the defendant, a Singapore company. The court noted that the plaintiff failed to comply with the procedural rules by not obtaining a summons and that she failed to correct the error within the time permitted. The court found, however, that the defendant would not suffer undue prejudice if the plaintiff was permitted additional time to obtain and serve the summons. Thus, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

Meet with an Experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you were injured at work, in addition to pursuing workers’ compensation benefits, you may be able to pursue damages from third-parties that contributed to your harm as well, and you should meet with an attorney to discuss your potential claims. The experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall possess the knowledge and skills not only to help you seek workers’ compensation benefits but also to aid you in the pursuit of compensation from third-parties. You can contact us at (934) 200-5372 or through our online form to set up a meeting.