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Not all workplace injuries qualify for workers' comp benefits

Rising insurance costs and shrinking margins are a concern for many employers in New Jersey and around the country, and these fears may sometimes prompt them to contest the workers' compensation claims filed by their sick or injured employees. One recent such case involved a clerk who was denied financial benefits from the state workers' compensation program even though he injured his wrist while working for the City of Chicago.

During an arbitration hearing, the clerk testified that he injured his wrist after losing his balance while bending over to pick up a pen that had fallen onto the floor. The injury, which was serious and required surgery, was deemed not work related by the arbitrator, and the subsequent denial of benefits was later affirmed by the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, which denied the man's claim because he was not ordered to pick up the pen and could have completed his duties without issue had he neglected to do so.

The clerk also claimed that he was exposed to higher levels of risk due to a previous work-related back injury and accused the City of Chicago of not doing enough to prevent accidents in the workplace, but these arguments did not sway the appellate court. Judges voted to reject the man's appeal and uphold the commission's ruling.

Employers worried about soaring overhead costs sometimes contest workers' compensation claims by alleging that the injuries involved would have been less severe or possibly avoided entirely had their employee not suffered from some sort of pre-existing medical condition. Attorneys with experience of these cases may be familiar with such arguments, and they could help injured or sick workers to compile the medical evidence needed to refute them.

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