New Jersey workers' compensation bill for first responders denied

Police offers and firefighters in Middlesex County protect residents from the effects of crime and dangerous fires. However, the heroic jobs of first responders do not come without a cost. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 88,000 firefighters are injured ever year. In the year 2000, approximately 100,000 police officers sustained injuries while performing their duties.

Protecting first responders

The most common injuries that firefighters encounter are traumatic. Some of these frequent injuries include:

  • Cuts and bruises
  • Burns
  • Asphyxiation
  • Respiratory issues
  • Heat and physical stress
  • Being struck by or making contact with objects

Police officers also experience many types of injuries from the duties associated with their career. Members of the police force are most likely to be injured by falls, getting assaulted, getting into a vehicle accident or becoming injured due to the effects of stress or overexertion.

Recently, a bill that was designed to help emergency responders obtain workers' compensation easily was denied by the governor of New Jersey. The bill was named after a firefighter that suffered from a variety of diseases, including cancer, after working for several weeks at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the tragedies of September 11, 2011, says

The bill would have made it easier for first responders to obtain workers' compensation after contracting a disease during a catastrophic event or a terrorist attack. Under the current system, first responders are required to prove exactly how and when they were injured or sickened while working. The new bill would have required employers to challenge any work-related injuries and illnesses. Requiring employers to challenge these claims for illnesses would have taken away the stress that many firefighters, police officers and other first responders experience under the current system.

While the governor of New Jersey stated that she has a profound respect for the work of first responders, it was turned down due to budget constraints.

The purpose of workers' compensation

Now, first responders in New Jersey may have a difficult time obtaining compensation for injuries or diseases that were incurred on the job. Workers' compensation coverage is designed to prevent workers from being responsible for the expensive costs that are associated with illnesses or injury. Typically, workers' compensation coverage covers an employee's medical bills, including prescriptions and physical therapy, compensating them for time that they could not work, and also protects employers from lawsuits from injured workers.

If you are an emergency responder that was injured while performing your duties or contracted a harmful disease and are struggling to obtain worker's compensation to cover the costs of your injuries and lost wages, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

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