"Sufficient Credible Evidence" – What does this mean?

“Insofar as medical testimony is concerned, it is undisputed that the judge of compensation ‘is not bound by the conclusional opinions of any one or more, or all of the medical experts.’ Perez v. Capitol Ornamental, Concrete Specialties, Inc., 288 N.J. Super. 359, 367 (app. Div. 1996) quoting Lightner v. Cohn, 76 N.J. Super. 461, 465 (App. Div. 1962). “So long as the Judge’s findings are supported by articulated reasons grounded in the evidence. we must defer to her expertise in assessing disability.” Id., citing Lewicki v. N.J. Art Foundry, 88 N.J. 75, 88-90 (1981).

A workers’ compensation judge is granted ‘deference’ because the judge had the opportunity to determine credibility based upon observations of the witness. Perez, supra, at 367. The Appellate Court is obligated to give “due regard to the judge’s expertise in the field of workers’ compensation and her opportunity of seeing the witnesses and evaluating their credibility.” Bradley v. Henry Townsend Moving and Storage Co., 78 N.J. 532, 534 (1979) and Close, supra, at 589. In short, a compensation judge’s decision will be affirmed if the appellate court is satisfied that the conclusions the judge reached were supported by sufficient credible evidence at trial.

See gen. Zimbitsky v. County of Morris, A-2429-08T1 (App. Div., decided January 15, 2010).

Greg Lois is the managing partner of LOIS LLC, a 19-attorney law firm dedicated to defending employers and carriers in New York and New Jersey workers' compensation claims. Greg is the author of a popular series of "Handbooks" on workers' compensation, and is the co-author of the 2016 Lexis-Nexis New Jersey Workers' Compensation Practice Guide. Greg can be reached at 201-880-7213 or glois@lois-llc.com