Robert J. Young of Young & Perez successfully persuaded the trial judge to allow for a significant 2nd Injury Fund contribution after a complete trial for Mr. Walsh who retired prior to becoming totally disabled (See Walsh v. GE, 334 N.J. Super. 1 (App. Div. 2000)). The State maintained that such benefits were not available to Mr. Walsh, as he was no longer protected for his prior injuries due to his decision to take himself out of the work force.
Mr. Young maintained that Mr. Walsh was not excluded from these extra benefits payable by the State. The trial judge agreed with Mr. Young, however, the State filed an Appeal of the trial court’s decision claiming that this was an improper invasion of the State’s assets.
The Appellate Division drafted a 13-page decision regarding the issue as to whether Mr. Walsh who retired before becoming totally disabled due to the delayed development of a work related injury and a prior disability is due extra benefits. The Fund’s argument specifically dealt with the fact that the Mr. Walsh had voluntarily taken himself out of the work force when he retired in 1984 due to his non work-related heart condition. His retirement was 9 years before the trial judge determined that he became totally disabled in 1995 and Mr. Walsh admitted that he had no intention to return to the work force. The State argued that the 2nd Injury Fund was established to encourage the hiring of the previously disabled. It therefore concluded that when Mr. Walsh permanently removed himself from the work force, the legislative intent was not furthered and only circumvented by extending benefits to him.
The oral argument was highly charged and extensively debated. The Appellate Division admitted that this was “an issue of first impression” and utilized Mr. Young’s argument to affirm the trial court’s decision regarding the State’s liability. In essence, this provided Mr. Walsh with an additional $234,950.65 in benefits that he may not have otherwise gotten.
All individuals who may be totally disabled due, in part, to their employment in New Jersey should consider using a law firm well aware of all of the methods available to maximize their recovery in the New Jersey Workers’Compensation court. The firm of Young & Perez has developed an intimate understanding of these claims and are available for free consultation and may be retained to represent your rights and obtain the fullest compensation available under our laws.