Carol Perez

Carol L. Perez has been has been re-appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court as Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Certification Committee. Carol will serve as Chair for a three-year term from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2019.

Workers’ Compensation Law for Equine Operations

The Palace at Somerset
333 Davidson Ave.
Somerset, New Jersey 08873

To register for the event please go to: http://goo.gl/O08hjK

The Equine Science Center at Rutgers University is hosting the “Symposium on Legal, Business, and Insurance Issues Impacting the Equine Industry” on Monday, October 12th at “The Palace at Somerset Park,” Somerset, New Jersey. The symposium will feature legal experts from the Tri-State area who will speak on topics including: “Business Formation and Liability Issues for Equine Operations”, “U.S. Immigration Law”, “Workers Compensation Law for Equine Operations by Carol Perez, Esq.”, “The Importance of Equine Accountants”, “Basic Insurance Coverage for Equine Operations”, and the “New Jersey’s Right to Farm Act”.

“In order for the equine industry to succeed, people in the horse industry have to run their business as a business,” said Liz Durkin. “We believe that this symposium is the first event of its kind where the target audience is equine operators specifically. Other similar events are geared to either attorneys or accountants who practice in that field,” continued Ms. Durkin. “The event organizers felt that it was important to host a seminar, for a nominal fee, that will address the basics of the legal, accounting, and insurance topics for equine operators. Our goal is to assist equine operators in becoming as successful as possible.”

Registration for the symposium (Which will start at 9:30am) is $75. The registration fee includes the catered breakfast and lunch, as well as all the conference materials. Students with a valid ID will have a discounted rate of $50. Seating is limited and will only be guaranteed upon receipt of payment in the form of check payable to the Rutgers University Equine Center.

When can giving or taking a ride go from transportation to risky trip

In the recent unpublished Appellate decision of Babekr v. XYZ Two Way Radio, N.J. Super. (App. Div. 2015), the NJ Appellate court affirmed that a chauffeur (Babekr) was an independent contractor rather than an employee. This ruling may have wide-ranging implications and may impact more than just the chauffer’s ability to collect workers’ compensation benefits.  In sum, this decision likely leaves the passengers at the mercy of the chauffer’s potentially inadequate insurance coverage and allows the larger organization (XYZ), which receives the largest benefit of the ride, to pass the insurance costs to the drivers.  With the advent and the increasing use of ride-sharing services,  both the drivers, whose personal auto insurance likely does not cover them for commercial use of their vehicles, and the passengers must take care and maintain vigilance in ensuring that they are properly protected from undue medical and financial risk.

While issuing the above decision, the court admitted that transporting passengers was an integral part of XYZ’s limousine business but determined that Babekr’s individual involvement was not of particular import.  In addition, the court found that XYZ exercised very little control over its drivers; they could work which ever hours they so choose, were free to work for whomever they wanted, and could return to work for XYZ by merely turning their on-board computer system on.  Furthermore, the petitioner was able to set his own hours, provided his own car and could not be terminated from his job.  Perhaps, most importantly, the court emphasized that the drivers were part owners of XYZ.  Accordingly, it was decided that Babekr’s relationship with XYZ did not meet the Compensation Act’s definition of “employee”, which is “synonymous with servant”.  Since only employees receive the benefits of the Compensation Act and independent contractors are not subject to the Act, Babekr’s compensation claim was deemed to have been properly dismissed.

Specifically, XYZ Limousine Services, was deemed to be a company made up of its 430 individual drivers, each of whom owned shares in the company, and 50 administrative personnel. The drivers of XYZ elect “board members,” who make the key decisions concerning the company’s operations. Passengers retain accounts with XYZ and pay their fares directly to their accounts.  XYZ then forwards the drivers a percentage of the fares from the clients’ accounts. XYZ does not deduct taxes and issues each driver a 1099 form. The only restrictions XYZ placed on the drivers were that they have to dress professionally and have a certain type of car.

Questions left unanswered by the Babekr case are as follows:

  • What if all or nearly all of Babekr’s income came from transporting XYZ’s passengers?
  • What type of insurance, if any, did XYZ provide to either its drivers or their passengers?
  • What would happen if the XYZ’s passenger was injured during the trip and how, if at all, would their injuries be compensated.
  • Would the court’s decision have been different if XYZ’s drivers’ were not shareholders of XYZ?

Historically, the reported cases universally hold that if Babekr was driving for a regulated livery business, he would have been covered by the NJ Workers’ Compensation Act. The issue here would seem to be an individual would have much more certainty of being properly protected if they decide to drive for or be a passenger of a regulated livery business. To do business otherwise may save a few cents in the short term but could lead to long-term medical care and other issues, which could lead to significant financial risk.

If you feel you have questions about this topic or if you may have been impacted by a situation like this; please feel free to contact the attorneys at Young & Perez through the many convenient methods provided for on this website or by calling us at 908.823.1212. At Young & Perez confidentiality, integrity, and professionalism have always been the cornerstone of our business and professional relationships.

Hurt on the Job?

New Jersey has in place one of the best systems in our country to help injured workers during a very difficult time. The law is designed to cover as many employees as possible so as to avoid workers becoming dependent upon the State of New Jersey for public assistance. Employers are required to have workers compensation insurance coverage or be self-insured so that its’ workforce is protected. An employer who fails to have workers compensation insurance is subject to criminal charges. An employer may not threaten to fire or take negative action against its’ worker if a workers compensation claim is made.

Workers, documented or undocumented, legal or illegal, who suffer injuries while in the course and scope of their employment are entitled to three possible benefits. These benefits include:

1. Medical treatment paid for by the employer
2. Temporary disability payments subject to a minimum and maximum weekly amount;
3. Permanent disability payments

Workers, however, must notify their employers of the injury immediately or risk losing their right to benefits. Once the worker provides notice of any injury, the employer or the workers compensation insurance company must direct the worker to a medical doctor and pay the medical bills. If the doctor keeps the worker out of work the employer or the insurance carrier must pay temporary disability benefits. The amount of the benefit is dependent upon the workers’ wages at the time of the accident.

Should you have any questions concerning your rights or obligations under the New Jersey Workers Compensation Law, contact an attorney who specializes in workers compensation law. The New Jersey Supreme Court certifies such attorneys as specialists and does not recognize any lawyer as a specialist who is not so certified.
Carol Perez is a certified workers compensation attorney of the State of New Jersey and is a founding partner of Young & Perez located on Route 22 W in Whitehouse.

This article is designed for general information only. The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Persons reading this article are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.
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