Compensable Eye Injury While Employed

On January 6, 2009, A New Jersey Appellate Division panel of Judges affirmed a New Jersey Division of Worker’s Compensation Department of Labor Claim that was brought by an injured worker against his former employer, Amalfe Brothers Tire Service. The injured worker was employed as an auto mechanic from 1983 until 2004. On May 1, 2000, while installing calipers on the brakes of a company vehicle, a co-worker accidentally depressed the brake pedal. This caused brake fluid to squirt into the injured employee’s left eye. The employee reported this injury to his manager. The employee attempted to wash the fluid out of his eye in the bathroom with water. On his way home he stopped at a drug store and purchased eye wash to help flush out the eye.

Over time the employee’s vision became blurry and he saw flashes. Ultimately, despite surgery, a diagnosis of an inferior retinal detachment secondary to a giant retinal tear was diagnosed. Vision in the eye is 20/200 with no hope for improvement. This loss of vision as a result of this New Jersey on the job injury has left this man essentially blind in one eye.

Due to the vision loss, the injured employee required psychiatric care. A diagnosis of post-traumatic stress accompanied the loss of vision. After taking testimony from the injured employee, the Worker’s Compensation Judge concluded that the petitioner was 63.33 % disabled and awarded him $143,640.00. Amalfe Brothers Tire Service appealed this decision. The appeal was denied. The Appellate Division panel was satisfied that the judge’s findings were appropriate.

In this case, the work injury in New Jersey was accidental. It was caused by a co-employee. In New Jersey, fault does not need to be established in order to bring a claim for injury against an employer. The injured worker only has to prove that the injury happened during the course of employment. In addition, as in this case, more significant injuries often have an accompanying psychological component.

If you have been injured during the course of your employment, contact an attorney at the law firm of Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. for a free consultation. An experienced NJ worker’s compensation attorney at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. will advise you of your rights and help fight for you to make sure your rights as an injured employee in the state of New Jersey are protected.