Under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation scheme, employees have relinquished some of their rights to pursue common law remedies in exchange for automatic entitlement to benefits for work-related injuries. Indeed, the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act generally bars an employee injured in the workplace from suing the employer.
The bar to suit does not apply, however, to injuries intentionally caused by an employer. In a series of cases, the New Jersey Supreme Court has held that this “intentional wrong” exception to the workers’ compensation bar also extends to situations in which the employer’s conduct has created a “substantial certainty” of harm to an employee.
New Jersey courts conduct a two-pronged analysis in order to determine whether an employer has committed an “intentional wrong.” First, the courts determine if the contested facts present a jury question as to whether the employer knew that its conduct was substantially certain to result in injury or death. If so, the court must decide if the context of the injury was a fact of industrial life, or beyond anything that the Legislature envisioned would be compensated under the Compensation Act. If both the context and conduct prongs are satisfied, the case is properly submitted to a jury for determination.
If you have been injured in a workplace accident, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer. You may not only possess a workers’ compensation claim but, under certain circumstances, you may possess a claim against third-parties responsible for your injuries, or against your employer for commission of an intentional wrong.