When you have been injured at work in New Jersey, your exclusive remedy will typically be through a workers’ compensation claim. It’s often referred to as the “grand bargain,” as it is designed to benefit both employers and employees. Business owners (and workers’ compensation insurance companies) don’t have to worry about large damage claims from a judge or jury because the workers’ compensation laws establish specific payouts. Workers generally have access to compensation more quickly, as they don’t have to go through all the procedures involved in a lawsuit.

At its best, it’s a straightforward and simple system—you see a doctor, get a medical opinion that you’ve suffered an injury and can’t work. You file your claim, continue to see the doctor regularly, and receive temporary benefits until you can return to work, or permanent benefits if you can’t go back to your job.

Workers’ compensation insurance companies, though, take a completely different view of your claim. It’s all about their bottom line, and the way they maximize their bottom line is to minimize what they pay you. It’s how their business model works. They charge premiums, which represents the bulk of their income. In order to maximize their profits, they need to maximize income and minimize expenses. The more they pay out in claims, the less profit they’ll show at the end of the year.

So it’s really in the workers’ comp insurance company’s best interests to make the process difficult for you. They may refuse to pay for necessary testing, or they may allege that you can return to work, or that your injury is less serious that you know it is. That’s why you need an experienced and aggressive workers’ compensation attorney to protect your rights.

Contact the Law Office of Taylor & Boguski

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured workers throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

According to a statistics gathered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), automatic nailers or nail guns are responsible for nearly 40,000 ER visits every year. But the risk is not limited to construction workers. The CDC found that almost a third (32%) of annual nail gun injuries are sustained by consumers.

Nail guns are generally one of two types: contact nail guns or sequential nail guns. With a contact nail gun, there’s a spring loaded safety mechanism at the tip of the “barrel.” You can hold down the trigger and the gun will automatically fire when you make contact with something, as it will disengage the safety mechanism. With a sequential gun, you must first depress the safety mechanism and then pull the trigger. If you have already pulled the trigger and try to depress the safety mechanism, it won’t work. Not surprisingly, the CDC found twice as many injuries involving contact guns.

The Principal Causes of Nail Gun Injuries

Researchers found a number of causes of nail gun injuries:

  • Unfortunately, in many instances, people are hurt because they have bypassed or permanently disengaged the safety mechanisms
  • It’s not uncommon for a gun to double fire, with the second nail coming out after the gun has been pulled away from the board
  • A nail can ricochet off a metal surface or even a knot in a board
  • A framing nail can easily penetrate a stud, causing injury if a worker’s hand is on the back side of the board
  • A worker may accidentally push the gun against a leg, hand or other body part
  • A worker may miss the board, even though the safety mechanism has been depressed

Contact the Law Office of Taylor & Boguski

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 856-200-8989.

According to an annual census compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly 4,700 people (4,679) died in 2014 as a result of occupational injuries, an increase of approximately two percent over the previous year. The death toll equates to about three workers out of every 100,000 in the United States.

Here are some of the key conclusions from the 2014 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:

  • Deaths from slips and fall rose approximately 10%, from 724 to 793
  • There were more deaths among people who were self-employed—also a 10 percent increase, from 950 to 1,047
  • Occupations that saw the greatest increases included mining (17%), agriculture (14%) and manufacturing (9%). Deaths declined for government workers (12%) and in private, service-related sectors.
  • Older workers suffered more occupational deaths—there was a 9% increase in fatal accidents involving workers over 55.
  • Among ethnic workers, Asians and African-Americans saw increases, while Latino/Hispanic workers saw a decline
  • Work-related deaths involving women increased 13% over the prior year

Types of Workplace Accidents

In 2014, motor vehicle accidents accounted for four of every 10 occupational deaths. More than half of those fatalities involved collisions, and 17% involved pedestrian deaths. There was also a 34% increase in rail vehicle deaths.

Deaths caused by workplace violence declined over the prior year, from 773 to 749. One telling statistic—in workplace homicides where the victim was female, the perpetrator was most likely to be a relative or domestic partner. However, in workplace homicides where the victim was male, the greatest likelihood was that the assailant was attempting to rob the business.

Less than 10 percent (372) workers were killed in so-called “catastrophic” accidents, where more than one worker was killed in a single accident.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured workers throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.


Seven construction workers were injured in a Hackensack scaffolding collapse in early December—three critically. Authorities say the workers were performing repairs on the roof of an apartment complex on Tracy Place around 3:30 in the afternoon when the scaffolding fell. There were six workers on the scaffold at the time it collapsed. The workers fell approximately 45 feet to the ground.

The accident occurred at an apartment complex known as ‘The Brookdale’, which has approximately 200 apartments in 10 buildings.

According to witnesses, the scaffold was a makeshift one. One neighbor, who declined to be identified, said that it wasn’t “a real scaffolding,” but was “jerry-rigged” together with ladders and planks. The neighbor said the way the system was set up, it did not seem reasonable that it could support the weight of all the workers. Authorities confirmed that no permit had been pulled to do the work on the roof. Both OSHA and the Bergen County Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Identification reportedly came to the site for an investigation.

Under state and federal laws and regulations, building owners and general contractors have to take certain steps to minimize the risk of injury to workers. Specifically, when workers are employed at levels above the ground, they must be provided with adequate safety equipment, which may include:

  • Properly installed scaffolding
  • Safety harnesses or hoists
  • Well-maintained and sufficient ladders

Witnesses said that the “scaffold” setup at the apartment complex consisted of so-called “ladder jacks” holding walk-boards between two extension ladders. Preliminary investigations indicated that there were no rails on the scaffolding, and that the workers did not have safety harnesses or similar devices. Authorities believe that the workers, who were unsupervised at the time, exceeded the weight limit of the walkboard.

Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people – including workplace accidents and construction accidents – throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

Permanent Partial Disability vs. Temporary Total Disability

New Jersey Workers’ Compensation law provides, in some areas, clear and concrete guidelines for work-related injury awards. Loss of a middle finger below the first joint, for example, is compensated with an award equal to 25 weeks pay. On the other hand, determination of disability, permanent or temporary, partial or total, depends on subjective evaluations of the employee’s ability to perform work.

How a judge determines permanent partial disability

Permanent partial disability is defined in the Workers’ Compensation statutes as permanent impairment. Criteria considered in determining disability include a reduced ability to work in light of age, training, and experience. The injured employee will be examined by two doctors, one presumably favoring the employer, and one the employee. The case will then be heard by a Judge of Compensation, who will listen to the employee’s description of the effect the injury has had on his or her life. It is recommended that the employee be represented by a workers’ compensation attorney at that hearing.

In a 9-11 World Trade Center case, Judge Ferriaro determined that David Handshuh’s permanent orthopedic pulmonary, neurological, and neurosychiatric injuries equaled 60% of total disability. She did so after listening to testimony of numerous doctors. Her decision referred to “the usual disparity in the estimates of permanent disability offered by the doctors,” commented that she was not bound by those estimates, and stated that she found Handshuh’s doctors to be more persuasive and credible. (Handschuh v. New York Daily News)

A determination of temporary total disability

There is common confusion, even among medical professionals, between the terms impairment and disability. Medically, impairment (altered health status) does not necessarily result in a disability (inability to perform actions previously possible). Social Security and Workers’ Compensation guidelines have more specific, work-related definitions.

Under New Jersey Workers’ Compensation law, disability is in part defined by the person’s reduced wage-earning capacity. Temporary total disability benefits are wage compensation paid until an injured employee is able to return to work. It is calculated at 70% of the weekly wage received at the time of the injury, not to total more than 75% of the average or less than 20% of the average. Temporary disability exists until the worker is as far restored as possible (in other words, has reached maximum medical improvement), whether or not the worker is able to return to work. It can be paid up to 400 weeks. The patient’s doctor determines when the patient has reached that endpoint in recovery, or is able to return to work.

An injured worker who feels the doctor has erred in determining the patient’s ability to return to work or endpoint in recovery can file a claim with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The claims process is challenging and the outcome can critically affect the worker’s quality of life. For that reason, the worker is advised to retain a workers’ compensation lawyer. The attorney will charge no fees until the matter is concluded, when the judge will determine the amount of the legal fees.

Contact us for a free attorney consultation, or visit our Practice Areas page for more information about Taylor & Boguski.

FELA vs. Workers’ Compensation

Workers in most industries are insured for work-related injuries under state workers’ compensation laws. Railroad workers, however, are covered by the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). Both systems were established as progressive measures to compensate workers for on-the-job injuries and work-related illnesses, and to promote safety measures on the part of employers. FELA was passed by Congress in 1907. In 1911, New Jersey was one of twelve states to pass workers’ compensation legislation (at that time referred to as workman’s compensation). Beyond the industries affected, distinctions between the programs include the bases for claims, the role of fault in determining an award, the court where the case is handled, types of damages, and the contemporary philosophy underlying the legislation.

The basis for a claim: FELA requires a railroad worker to prove an on-the-job injury was, at least in part, the result of negligence on the part of the railroad (or a railroad employee, agent, or contractor). In contrast, New Jersey Workers’ Compensation law, like that in other states, does not require proof of negligence, and requires an employer to compensate a worker for any work-related injury or occupational illness.

The role of negligence in a claim: Workers’ comp does not require any evidence of negligence on the part of the employer, and negligence on the part of the employee will not reduce the amount of the claim. FELA observes the doctrine of contributory negligence, a fault-sharing system where an employee partially responsible for his or her on-the-job injury will receive an award reduced in proportion to that responsibility. Determining the percentage of fault in a FELA case is highly subjective; as a result the decision of a court used to the traditional personal injury system may be hard to predict.

Where the claim is tried: An injured railway work may file a FELA claim in a New Jersey State or Federal court, and is entitled to a jury trial. A worker injured in another industry will file a claim with the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. In the event of a dispute, the worker may file a claim petition or application for an informal hearing with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation. The case will then be assigned to a state judge and district based on the county where the worker lives or is employed.

Types of damages available: Both FELA and workers’ comp claims provide damages for past and future wage loss and medical treatment. FELA provides damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress; workers’ compensation does not. Each plan provides some compensation for permanent partial or total disability, and workers’ compensation has a payment schedule to compensate for the loss of use of a limb, hearing, vision, or other function. The way damages are calculated differs significantly between the plans.

Why two systems? The railroad industry has repeatedly lobbied Congress to repeal FELA or replace it with a system similar to workers’ compensation; Congress has resisted. Supporters of FELA cite it as more than a railroad workers’ compensation plan, providing critical encouragement to the railroads to curb unsafe practices and improve dangerous work environments.

In the event of a work-related accidents

The railroads and other employers will attempt to minimize costs resulting from an on-the-job accident or work-related illness. Supervisors are trained to immediately collect information and evidence to support the employer’s defense against any claim for damages. To preserve the right to FELA or workers’ compensation benefits, an injured worker should report the accident or illness, but not make any statement until after consulting with a workers’ compensation or FELA lawyer or with a union representative. The worker should immediately record the names and contact information of any witnesses, and write out a private record of any events surrounding the accident.

Contact us for a free attorney consultation, or visit our Practice Areas page for more information about Taylor & Boguski.

Choosing a Doctor & Getting Medical Treatment

You have been hurt on the job, or are showing symptoms of an occupational illness. Your first responsibility was to notify your employer of the accident or injury. Next, you need to submit a request to your employer to get medical treatment. Under New Jersey Workers’ Compensation law, your employer or your employer’s insurance company can select the health-care provider to treat your work-related injury or condition. Some employers will agree to let you see your own doctor or chiropractor. Be sure to have that written permission with you before visiting your own clinic.

You will not have to pay any co-pay or deductible—the entire cost of treatment, including physical therapy, chiropractic treatments, doctor’s visits and other expenses, is covered. The doctor chosen by your employer will typically be under contract with your employer’s insurance company. Unfortunately, some of those providers take advantage of the relationship and do not provide the customer service, quality of diagnostics, and referrals to specialists you would find at your regular clinic.

If you are not happy with the workers’ comp doctor

Your employer does have the right to choose your doctor. However, if that means you are not receiving reasonable and necessary treatment that will cure you, relieve pain, or restore function, you have options. DO NOT go to your regular clinic and try to use your regular health insurance—treatment for a work-related injury is probably excluded from the policy.

You can file a claim in Workers’ Compensation Court, a Motion for Medical and/or Temporary Disability Benefits. Your motion will be scheduled to be heard by a judge within 30 days of filing. The judge can order the insurance company to pay for the treatment, diagnostic studies, or an evaluation by a specialist. If a doctor provides a statement that you need medical care before the hearing, and that a delay will result in irreparable harm, you can file a Motion for Emergent Medical Care.

Should you represent yourself in workers’ compensation court?

The claim process is complex and it is recommended that you retain a workers’ compensation attorney to represent you. Your lawyer will not charge a fee in a workers’ compensation case until the matter is ended, at which time the fee is determined by the judge. That fee will never be more than 20% of the award.

What is maximum medical benefit?

The workers’ compensation authorized doctor will eventually declare you have reached “maximum medical benefit” and should return to work. You may not have completely recovered from your injury and still experience pain and other symptoms, but if you have reached maximum medical improvement, you will not benefit from further medical treatment.

For more than a century, Workers’ Compensation Law has provided New Jersey workers with a no-fault insurance plan for on-the-job injuries and occupational diseases. The system may be challenging at times, but protects workers and forces employers to provide employees with care and compensation in the event of injuries.

Contact us for a free attorney consultation, or visit our Practice Areas page for more information about Taylor & Boguski.