Workers’ Comp Extends to Weight Loss Surgery

A much debated issue surrounding workers’ compensation and weight loss surgery has raised many questions regarding what an employer should and should not be expected to pay when an employee is injured on the job. A ruling in Indiana last month by the state’s workers’ compensation board decided in a 4-3 decision that a cook’s employer will in fact have to pay for his lap-band weight loss surgery in addition to a back surgery. The injured worker’s employer argued that they should not have to pay for his weight loss surgery because he was already overweight before injuring his back at work. The lap-band surgery may cost the company $20,000 to $25,000.

The reason behind the board’s decision is that the 380-pound worker’s back operation will not actually serve its purpose of relieving serious pain unless he first has surgery to lower his weight. This is not a case of an employee trying to trick his employer into paying for weight loss surgery rather than paying for it himself. If the employee hadn’t been accidentally hit in the back by a freezer door while at work, he would not have suffered severe back pain requiring surgery in the first place.

According to the report, the president of the National Workrights Institute in Princeton, N.J. stated, “This kind of situation will happen again … and employers are undoubtedly worried about that.” It should be interesting to see whether or not employers demonstrate a noticeable hesitance in hiring workers with health problems that could potentially jeopardize their company’s finances if a work-related injury ensues.

As you can see, this recent case is full of controversy and such a situation is not limited to take place only in Indiana. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury while on the job in New Jersey, you may be able to seek compensation to help pay for financial expenses brought on by the injury. The skilled New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys at Lependorf & Silverstein are highly familiar with the many complexities surrounding work injury litigation. Our lawyers have handled numerous workers’ compensation claims relating to personal injury and wrongful death, lending us a broad range of knowledge and resources that will benefit you in your case. Call Lependorf & Silverstein today at 609-240-0040 for a free consultation.

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