Similar Injuries May Still Be Distinct for Workers’ Compensation Purposes

Submitted by New Jersey Workers Compensation Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

Rajpaul v. McDonald’s Corporation, decided August 28, by the Appellate Division. Petitioner was a maintenance worker for McDonald’s between 1995 and 2005. In 2001, he was diagnosed with bilateral bicipital tendonitis but it was resolved with treatment and he continued to work at McDonald’s. However, in 2006 he was diagnosed with a left shoulder rotator cuff tear and underwent surgery. He petitioned for workers’ compensation benefits from McDonalds for this tear and McDonald’s moved for and was granted dismissal under the two-year statute of limitations specified in N.J.S.A. 34:15-34. Petitioner argued that the statute of limitations clock did not start ticking until he was aware of the injury, but McDonald’s argued that the tear was part of the chronic progressive shoulder condition which had existed since 2001. On appeal it was determined that without medical experts it could not be said that the tear was a result of the prior tendonitis and because they were distinct injuries, benefits should have been granted,

Workers’ Compensation is intended to provide relief for accidents at work or compensable occupation diseases from work. Medical conditions are complex and often interrelated. But they may be distinct conditions even if interrelated. An experienced personal injury attorney with experienced medical experts must be hired to assist you in deciphering these details so you are not wrongfully denied benefits.  As well, because the Appellate Division sent this case back down to the trial court for additional testimony, as petitioner’s attorney you must be full and completely prepared and able to provide the trial with a full and complete record including medical testimony in order to provide a full and complete decision!

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