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South Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Comment on Right of Intoxicated Worker to Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Petrillo & Goldberg Law.

Petrillo & Goldberg Law.

Pennsauken, NJ (Law Firm Newswire) January 13, 2017 – On Wednesday, November 9, a New Jersey state appeals court ruled that a former mechanic, Antonio Diaz, has a right to receive workers’ compensation benefits for the injuries he suffered when a lift descended on him. The court decided in his favor although he was inebriated at the time. The court reasoned that Diaz’s intoxicated state was not the only cause of the accident.

The appellate panel, which consisted of two judges, affirmed a previous ruling that rendered an award of benefits to Diaz. The ruling also dismissed the defense of intoxication used by the mechanic’s former employer, National Retail Transportation, Inc. The court reasoned that there was enough evidence for the compensation judge to decide that a flat tire on the lift may also have been a contributing factor in causing the accident.

South Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys Petrillo & Goldberg stated, “As long as there is another potential cause of the accident, plaintiff’s intoxication should not be accepted as a valid defense.”

Because National did not provide testimony ruling out the possibility that a flat tire caused the accident, it failed to carry its burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence that Diaz’s drunken state was the only cause of the accident. Diaz, who has been employed as a mechanic by National for 14 years, gave testimony that, prior to leaving for work on January 28, 2014, he consumed a minimum of two eight-ounce glasses of whiskey and ice and water.

Inasmuch as National contended that Mr. Diaz’s inebriated condition was the proximate cause of the accident, the company denied him benefits. However, National admitted that there was a deflated tire on the lift.

The panel said that the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act provides that in cases where intoxication is the proximate cause of injury or death, there can be no recovery of benefits. However, interpretation of intoxication by some courts is that the workers’ intoxication has to be the only cause of the accident.

Moreover, the panel said that the New Jersey Supreme Court reaffirmed the rule in its 2006 decision in the case of James E. Tlumac v. High Bridge Stone, in which the court decided that the Legislature intended that there be a denial of Workers’ Compensation benefits only if intoxication was the exclusive cause of an employee’s injuries sustained in the workplace.

Petrillo & Goldberg Law

6951 North Park Drive
Pennsauken, NJ 08109

19 South 21st Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

70 South Broad Street
Woodbury, NJ 08096

Phone: 856-486-4343
Fax: 856:486-7979

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Two Dead in Austin-Travis County After Three-Vehicle Crash

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) January 12, 2017 – A high school student and his mother died in a recent wreck on SH 71.

According to police records, this accident was the result of a recklessly driven 2015 Subaru traveling west on SH 71. In the inside lane, heading east, was a 2015 Ford Focus followed by a 2012 Volvo truck, in the outside lane.

The speeding Subaru failed to negotiate a curve on SH 71, causing it to cross over into the inside lane of highway directly in front of the Ford Focus. The Subaru slammed into the front left of the Focus with its front, causing the Focus to spin counter clockwise into the east guardrail. The Subaru spun out into the west ditch. Witnessing the crash, the truck driver attempted evasive action but ended up smashing into the passenger side door of the Focus.

The two dead at the scene were identified as a 17-year-old Lake Travis High School senior and his mother.

“It was not clear why the driver of the Subaru was speeding, but those details are expected to be determined when the police have finished their investigation into the crash,” said Austin personal injury attorney, Bobby Lee, not involved in this case. “There are a number of reasons that come to mind as to why the car was speeding and those may involve distracted driving, a medical emergency, driving while under the influence or possible mechanical failure.”

The reckless negligence of the Subaru driver led to a fatal accident. If the driver were under the influence of alcohol, the family of the deceased would be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit, which would be launched after any criminal proceedings were completed. “Our firm represents plaintiffs or victims of DWI collisions. If you have been involved in a collision with a drunk driver, our door is open to you to answer any questions you may have about your legal rights,” added Lee.

Lee, Gober & Reyna
11940 Jollyville Road #220-S
Austin, Texas 78759
Phone: 512.478.8080

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