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When Can an Injured Worker Sue an Employer Under New Jersey Law?

New Jersey Construction/Work Accident Law: Suits Against Employers

NJ|PA Injury Lawsuits Against Employers ImageLike all other states in the country, New Jersey has a workers’ compensation insurance scheme which allows injured workers to obtain medical treatment and pay, regardless of whether the injury was their fault or not.  In exchange for this insurance, New Jersey workers are generally barred from suing their employers for negligence.  This is called the workers’ compensation bar or the exclusive remedy provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act.

However, when an employer commits an intentional act, one where the employer knows that the consequences of the act are substantially certain to result in harm, the injured worker may bring suit against his or her employer.  

Laidlow v. Hariton Machinery Co., Inc. was a 2002 New Jersey case in which the New Jersey Supreme Court went to great lengths to explain the “intentional wrong” exception to the workers’ compensation bar.  

The electronic manufacturing company/employer in the Laidlow case removed a safety device from a dangerous machine to speed production, knowing that removing it was substantially certain to result in injury to workers. In addition, the employer deceived OSHA inspectors by placing the safety guard in place during inspections only to remove it once they left.

The employer argued that because no other worker had been injured in the previous 12 years, it was not aware of the danger.  The Court rejected that argument and sided with the injured worker.  The Court pointed out that one doesn’t have to be burned by fire to know that fire is dangerous.

New Jersey law clearly allows for suits against employers where the employer commits an intentional wrong, or acts in such a way that it knows that an act is substantially certain to result in harm, like removing a safety guard from a machine.

Even if an employer is not able to be sued for negligence, other parties can often be sued, such as:
  • general contractors
  • subcontractors
  • product manufacturers
  • product distributors/retailers
  • maintenance companies
  • owners
  • architects

It is vital to speak to an experienced New Jersey workplace and industrial accident lawyer immediately.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a New Jersey construction or machinery accident, call the experienced personal injury lawyers at White and Williams.  877.944.8396

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