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Remind bosses: Ignoring safety may mean direct liability

by on
in Employment Law,Human Resources

Employees who are hurt—or families of those killed on the job—generally must be content with the payments they’re eligible to receive under the New Jersey workers’ compensation law. And employers typically aren’t on the hook for additional damages, since they discharge their duty by paying their workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

There is an exception, however. If an employer knows that a safety hazard exists that will injure or kill an employee and harm results, the harmed parties may go after the employer.

Recent case: Kenneth Van Dunk was seriously injured when, in violation of OSHA regulations, he was told to enter an unsupported trench. The trench collapsed. Van Dunk tried to sue his employer directly.

The court said he could, given that the danger was obvious. (Van Dunk, et al., v. Reckson, et al., No. A-3548-08T2, Superior Court of New Jersey, 2010)

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