The New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Act has a provision that prohibits an employee from suing an employer if that employee is injured during the course of his or her employment. This provision is commonly referred to as the “exclusive remedy provision.” There are, however, certain exceptions to the exclusive remedy provision where an injured employee can bring a claim against his employer. One such exception is the “intentional wrong” exception.
The intentional wrong exception to the exclusive remedy provision was examined by the Supreme Court of New Jersey in the case of Crippen v. Central Jersey Concrete Pipe Company, 176 N.J. 397. In this case, an employee fell from a six foot high, unsecured ladder into a sand hopper and suffocated to death. The plaintiff argued that since the defendant failed to correct Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations and made fraudulent misrepresentations to OSHA officials that certain unsafe working conditions had been abated, this constituted intentional wrong and the claim should survive as an exclusive remedy exception.
The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiff and allowed the deceased’s estate to proceed against his former employer. The Court reasoned that “a jury reasonably could conclude that the defendant had knowledge that its actions were substantially certain to result in the injury or death of one of its employees.” The Court also explained that when examining substantial certainty, a totality of the circumstances needs to be considered.
The ability to file a New Jersey personal injury claim against an employer outside the scope of Worker’s Compensation is very fact specific. Just because you have been injured on the job, it does not necessarily mean that you are prohibited from making a non-worker’s compensation claim.
The Crippen case is an example of how important it is to gather as much evidence as soon after the injury as possible to begin to build the strength of your claim. Please contact an experienced New Jersey worker’s compensation attorney at the law firm of Lependorf & Silverstein for a free consultation regarding your rights. Often, recoveries can be much greater if the plaintiff has his or her choice of venue. Contact an attorney at the Princeton, New Jersey law firm of Lependorf & Silverstein to discuss your options. It is important to contact us as soon as possible after you have been injured.