Fairbank Secures Dismissal in NJ Workers’ Compensation Court for Lack of Employment

Steven D. Fairbank, Esq., a partner in Cipriani & Werner, P.C.’s Mt. Laurel Office, recently obtained a dismissal with prejudice for lack of employment on behalf of our client.

Petitioner filed a Claim Petition in NJ Workers’ Compensation Court alleging work-related injuries caused by a fall from a ladder.  He subsequently filed a Motion for Medical Treatment and Temporary Disability Benefits seeking authorization of medical treatment and indemnity benefits, along with payment of outstanding medical bills which were approximately $100,000 at the time.

At the time of the accident, Petitioner was a full-time roofer for a company and worked with our client’s brother, who was residing at our client’s residence at the time.  Our client, an electrician working for a company in New York, had recently purchased his home in New Jersey.  On the date of the accident, our client and a group of friends and family were placing new shingles on our client’s new home.  His brother had suggested that Petitioner help, and our client and Petitioner agreed to $250 for his work on that Saturday.  Days before the accident, Petitioner and our client’s brother picked up materials at a store and transported them to the residence.  The roofing project began at approximately 8 a.m. the morning of the accident.  Petitioner did not show up until 9 a.m.  He worked until about 4 p.m., when he fell off his ladder.

Attorney Fairbank filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of employment on the basis that the relationship between the parties was “causal employment” which is not covered under the NJ Workers’ Compensation Act.  The Judge of Compensation agreed, and the claim was denied.

First, Petitioner was not economically dependent on our client.  He had a full-time job as a roofer for a company during the week and only planned to work that one day for our client.  He testified that he had no intention to return the following day if the work was not completed.  The Judge also highlighted the facts that our client was an electrician by trade, not a roofer, and the project occurred at his personal home, not his place of business.

Petitioner raised the argument that there was a contractor/subcontractor relationship resulting in coverage under N.J.S.A. 34:15-79.  However, the Judge agreed with our position that there was no general or subcontractor relationship in this situation, and the claim was dismissed.

If you have any questions about this case, please contact Steven Fairbank, Esq. at sfairbank@c-wlaw.com or (856) 761-3800.