Why the Odd Lot Doctrine May be Important to You
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Tue Apr 2017
- Workers Compensation,
You were badly injured at work, but not deemed totally disabled. Nevertheless, you’ve already learned that you can’t ever go back to doing your old job. Yet, you don’t have the skills to do anything else. These are just a couple of considerations that might make you a candidate for total disability under the Odd Lot Doctrine.
It might seem to be a confusing concept. The doctor hasn’t said that you are totally disabled.Then, why would an insurance company pay you as though you were? The Odd Lot Doctrine is actually premised on old English laws. If you are severely injured and don’t qualify for another type of work, you may be entitled to total and permanent workers’ compensation disability payments.
Odd Lot Doctrine Considerations
For starters, let’s add some clarification concerning what constitutes a serious injury. Once again, you don’t necessarily have to be considered 100% disabled. According to NJSA 34:15- 36, “factors other than physical and neuropsychiatric impairments may be considered in the determination of permanent total disability.” Those other factors are the ones that might make you eligible to assert a claim for total disability under the Odd Lot Doctrine.
The language of the statute continues with further requirements regarding awards for permanent and total disability. The physical and neuropsychiatric impairments must add up to at least 75% of total disability. This number will be determined after a review of expert reports submitted by your lawyer and the attorney for your employer.
So, part one is a finding of at least 75% impairment. Part two can be more difficult. There must be proof that you are ineligible for any other type of employment. This will requiredocumentation that demonstrates why you can’t find work doing something else.
Successful Application of the Odd Lot Doctrine
The Odd Lot Doctrine was successfully asserted in the matter of Calle v. Dejana Industries, NJ:Appellate Div. 2011. This case involved a worker hired to unload trucks of deicing materials.Mr. Calle suffered severe back injuries when he slipped and fell in a work-related accident.
As a result of the accident, Mr. Calle underwent extensive back surgery. This included a laminectomy, spinal fusion, and insertion of a rod. Even nine months after the accident, Mr.Calle was still in pain and walked with a limp.
The expert doctors retained by both sides disagreed on the extent of Mr. Calle’s injuries. Nevertheless, when the judge reviewed the testimony and reports, he also added his opinion concerning application of the Odd Lot Doctrine to the case.
According to the compensation judge, "the accident and injury [orthopedically and neurologically] totaled [Calle]." He then stated that "one could certainly consider that [Calle is an] odd lot given the fact that he has Spanish as a primary language; he has no other formal education[.]”
In other words, the judge acknowledged that Mr. Calle would have a difficult time securing new employment because of language and education deficiencies.