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Intoxicated Worker Awarded Workers' Compensation Benefits
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Intoxicated Worker Awarded Workers' Compensation Benefits

Workers' Compensation

Intoxicated Worker Awarded Workers' Compensation Benefits
An employee fell from a narrow, eighteen-foot-high scaffold in the course of assembling a sheet metal roof. Even though there was evidence admitted at the trial that he had consumed a gallon and a half of hard alcohol, drank two beers that day, and had a grossly elevated blood alcohol level of .29%, the accident was held compensable. 

The court reasoned that the accident was also caused by the risk of work in addition to alcohol consumption. The accident was partially caused while the worker was attempting to fasten a defective assembly apparatus to the bridge of the scaffold. Therefore alcohol consumption was not the sole cause of the accident.
Warner v. Vanco Manufacturing, Inc. (App. Div. 1997) 

Employee Harassed By State Police Awarded Benefits
Where there is a specific traumatic event caused by the employer's actions, the petitioner's psychiatric disability is said to be causally related to the employment. An employee was accused of searching through the desk of another employee, and a criminal investigation concerning the theft of an expensive bracelet from the other employee's desk was instituted. The injured worker suffered depression, high blood pressure and post-traumatic stress disorder due to being falsely imprisoned and harassed by the New Jersey State Police detectives. She accused the detectives of yelling at her and insisting that she was lying. The employee became very emotional, began to cry, and became nauseous during the investigation. She was threatened by the State Police with an arrest warrant and informed that she could go to jail for 5-7 years. The employee was denied a request to call her sister or her cousin on the telephone. Detectives detained her for over 2 ½ hours in the basement of the Justice Complex. Approximately 3 weeks after the investigation, she was advised that she was no longer a suspect in the theft of the bracelet. 
Prettyman v. State, 298 NJ Super. 580 - NJ: Appellate Div. 1997

Examining Physicians Have A Duty To Exercise Reasonable Professional Care
While the court did not intend to impose upon the examining physician the same duty owed to the traditional patient, the examiner will be subject to third-party liability if the professional fails to diagnose a condition for which the claimant presents symptoms and complaints. A forty-year-old individual was unable to continue to work because of vision problems. The claimant claimed he could not drive a car because of decreased vision. The claimant appeared at a physician's office for an examination for Social Security Disability Benefits at the direction of the reviewing agency. The examining physician noted the petitioner's complaint of poor vision and administered eye chart tests, and concluded that the claimant was in fairly good health, although his eyesight could be better. The claimant's problems continued, and he saw an ophthalmologist who referred him for MRI studies. Diagnostic tests revealed a large brain tumor in the optic chasm, which was the cause of his visual difficulties. Surgical tumor excision was required, and follow-up radiation treatments were conducted. The Social Security Administration finally awarded disability benefits and the claimant was permitted to proceed against the examining physician for professional negligence. Ranier v. Frieman
 682 A. 2d 1220 - NJ: Appellate Div. 1996

Teachers' Summer Benefits Limited - Seasonal Employment
A worker who is not expected to work for the school district over the summer recess and who has already received his or her full salary was not permitted to collect temporary disability benefits over the summer recess. The court held that the workers' compensation benefits were to be paid with the same intent as sick leave benefits according to N.J.S.A. 18A:30-2. Outland v. Monmouth-Ocean Education,
685 A. 2d 68 - NJ: Appellate Div. 1996. [Note: Reversed on appeal Outland v. MONMOUTH-OCEAN EDUC. SERV., 713 A. 2d 460 - NJ: Supreme Court 1998].


The author, Jon L. Gelman, practices law in Wayne, NJ. He is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900 have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L.,  Intoxicated Worker Awarded Workers' Compensation Benefits, (1997),

© 1997-2023 Jon L Gelman. All rights reserved.

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