Recovering for Lost Work Time Due to Occupational Illness
Under the workers’ compensation laws in New Jersey, you are entitled to seek benefits for an occupational disease, provided you can show the following:
- your illness arose out of or occurred during the course of your employment;
- the illness was caused by factors characteristic of or peculiar to your occupation or place of employment; and
- your work contributed in some material way to contracting the disease.
Proving you contracted a communicable disease at work can be difficult. But New Jersey has made it easier for workers to get benefits for COVID-19 by enacting a new law that creates the presumption that “essential employees” have a compensable occupational illness when they contract a communicable disease during an officially-declared public health emergency. The law went into effect on September 14, 2020, and was retroactive to March 9, 2020. It covers all essential workers who contract the coronavirus.
What Is an Essential Employee?
The law defines an essential employee as a private or public worker in one of four categories:
- public safety, including first responders, police, firefighters, and other emergency technicians;
- medical and healthcare personnel, including workers in residential facilities, nursing homes, emergency transportation, and social services;
- occupations essential to public health, safety, and welfare, including food and beverage services, groceries, hotel and residential services, medicine, and pharmaceutical services; or
- any worker deemed an essential employee by the authority that declared the health emergency.
If you fall into one of the above-listed categories and contracted the virus, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits unless your employer can prove you were exposed outside the scope of your employment.
Contact the Cintron Firm
At theCintron Firm, LLC, we offer more than 14 years of experience to people in New Jersey facing a broad array of legal challenges. Attorney Mark Cintron has worked as a prosecutor and has extensive courtroom experience, so he’s always ready, willing, and able to protect your interests before a judge or jury. We are currently available to talk with you by phone, text message, or online videoconference. Contact our office online or call us at 201-791-1333 or (201) 535-0323 to set up an appointment.