Essential workers in New Jersey who contract the coronavirus may be eligible for workers’ compensation without having to prove how and where they contracted the virus. Governor Phil Murphy signed the law on September 14, 2020, which is retroactive to March 9, 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused hundreds of thousands of cases in New Jersey alone. If you are one of them and are considered an essential employee, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Am I an Essential Employee?
New Jersey states that “an employee in the public or private sector who during a state of emergency”:
- is a public safety worker or first responder, including any fire, police or other emergency responders;
- is involved in providing medical and other healthcare services, emergency transportation, social services, and other care services, including services provided in health care facilities, residential facilities, or homes;
- performs functions which involve physical proximity to members of the public and are essential to the public’s health, safety, and welfare, including transportation services, hotel and other residential services, financial services, and the production, preparation, storage, sale, and distribution of essential goods such as food, beverages, medicine, fuel, and supplies for conducting essential business and work at home; or
- is any other employee deemed an essential employee by the public authority declaring the state of emergency.
The fourth category includes workers deemed essential by a Governor’s order, such as construction workers, retail employees of gas stations and convenience stores, pharmacy employees, and grocery store employees.
What does the new law say about workers’ compensation for COVID-19?
For most types of workers compensation claims, the worker must prove that the injury or illness was directly related to the job. The new law, during the pandemic, presumes the essential employee’s COVID-19 illness is related to work. The employer would need to prove, with a preponderance of evidence, that the employee did not contract the virus at work.
For many New Jersey essential employees who were sick with COVID-19, this new law could help them recover lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses. At Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, we offer a free consultation. One of our trusted team members will listen to your story, learn about your case, and can advise you next steps. Many of our clients feel a sense of relief once they make that first phone call. Get in touch today or call us at 201-514-6351.