On appeal from Final Judgment of the New Jersey Department of Labor, Division of Workers' Compensation.
Bilder, Baime and Wallace, JJ. The opinion of the court was delivered by Bilder, J.A.D.
[261 NJSuper Page 310] This is an appeal by an impleaded respondent employer, Eagle Plywood & Door Manufacturers Inc., from a judgment of the Division of Workers' Compensation awarding the petitioner employee, James Baijnath, 10% partial permanent disability for a lumbosacral sprain and strain and 25% partial permanent disability for post traumatic stress disorder manifested by depression. On appeal, Eagle contends that the award against
it is barred by N.J.S.A . 34:15-41 because petitioner did not file a claim within two years of the alleged accident and that the Compensation Judge's findings were not supported by the evidence. The petitioner cross-appeals, contending the attorney's fees awarded to him were inadequate.
Petitioner sustained a compensable accident on July 8, 1983 when, as an employee of respondent Coil Metal Corporation,*fn1 he fell injuring his back, left shoulder and back of his head. His medical bills were paid and he received temporary disability benefits. Thereafter, he obtained a $250,000 award in a third party action and the medical and disability benefit liens were satisfied. This appeal arises from the subsequent trial of petitioner's permanent disability claim.
Petitioner remained out of work a little over three months, returning to light duty on October 24, 1983. In December, he again left, returning in February 1984. When he was unable to work, his employment at Coil Metal was terminated. He then went to Eagle Plywood by whom he was employed from February 21, 1984 until September 6, 1984. Eagle Plywood was impleaded by Coil Metal as a subsequent employer. Prior to the first hearing with respect to petitioner's claim of a permanent disability arising from the July 8, 1983 accident, there was no suggestion that there had been any subsequent accident nor had any claim of aggravation been asserted.*fn2
On January 18, 1990 while testifying on direct examination, petitioner made it known that an accident had occurred while he was working at Eagle Plywood.
The last day [September 6, 1984] I worked [at Eagle] there was a shocking pain in my back. In the lower back there was a severe burning like blazing on the back, and then my left leg was actually numb. I couldn't stand up any longer.
[Just before I felt the pain] I helped move some doors. Those doors was like about 135 pounds. Four of us lift them.
When he felt the pain he rested and then left work.
I went to the men's room and I stand up there for about 20 minutes to see if I could get over the pain, and it didn't go away. I started to perspire and I went to the supervisor and I said, "Sir, I can't work any more. I'm going to the hospital."
He then went to the Plainfield Health Center and saw Dr. Walsh, the doctor who was still treating ...