On Monday, September 14, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a bill that would make it substantially easier for essential workers who contracted Covid-19 to collect workers’ compensation benefits. The law effectively changes the burden of proof for an essential worker to show that he or she contracted the coronavirus at work.
Ordinarily, an injured worker in New Jersey bears the burden of proof to establish that their illness was due to an exposure which occurred at work. However, under the new law, an essential worker is presumed to have contracted the coronavirus at work. The burden then shifts to the employer to prove that the worker did not get ill due to exposure at work.
The bill states that those who are covered are workers who provide necessary and vital services to the public. It was sponsored by Assembly Democrats Thomas Giblin, John Burzichelli, Carol Murphy, and Joann Downey. “These dedicated workers have heroically stepped up and put their health on the line in order to help their fellow community members get through this unprecedented crisis,” said Thomas Giblin.
New Jersey has been hit exceptionally hard during the outbreak. At the peak of the crisis in early spring, hospitals around the state ran dangerously low on personal protective equipment, or PPE, and even resorted to reusing N-95 masks. On April 14, the state saw a peak of 8,065 hospitalizations due to the virus. Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck was at the epicenter of the pandemic, and in order to make room for incoming coronavirus patients, they were forced to convert the whole hospital into intensive care units, including using outdoor tents to fit patients.
Not surprisingly, the overwhelming number of cases took its toll on healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, and first responders, many of whom became ill themselves. This new law signed by Governor Murphy will provide benefits to those individuals and many other workers deemed essential under the law.
Steve Cohen, Esq., Chairman of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C.’s Workers Compensation Department, has decades of experience helping individuals who have been injured or have become ill while on the job. The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act provides for related medical treatment to the injured worker, money while they cannot work due to the illness or injury and an award of money for the injured workers’ permanent injury.
To learn more about workers’ compensation, please contact Steven Cohen at 201-444-4444, ex. 1473, or email email@example.com.