New Jersey First Responders Get Expanded Workers’ Compensation Coverage

New Jersey broadens workers' compensation for emergency responders, covering post-shift cardiac events or strokes and easing the proof burden for families to receive benefits.
By: | January 29, 2024

Expanding workers’ compensation coverage, New Jersey’s new law ensures emergency responders, including volunteers, are compensated for injuries sustained during or after their shift.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed a bill revising workers’ compensation coverage for fatal cardiac events or strokes for certain volunteer and professional public safety and law enforcement personnel — including firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

The bill, A-5909/S-4267, expands the scope of workers’ compensation coverage to include a period of up to 24 hours after a shift and establishes a presumption that any medical event occurring within this period is a direct result of the work these personnel do.

Until now, the families of firefighters, EMTs and paramedics who died from a heart attack or stroke would only be automatically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if the event occurred on-shift, according to the International Association of Fire Fighters union.

The new law, which takes effect immediately, will cover all cases left pending and is expected to alleviate the burden on families who previously had to prove their loved one’s death was job-related to receive benefits. This change comes in response to cases like that of Scott Danielson, an EMT who died from a heart attack hours after responding to an emergency, whose family had to fight for years to be awarded compensation.

Governor Murphy stated, “Our first responders and essential workers are a top priority for our Administration, which is why I am proud to sign this bill into law today to provide these workers and their families with compensation coverage for the injuries that they sustain while they are on the job.”

The legislation received full support from the House and was championed by the Professional Fire Fighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ), which worked tirelessly with state legislators to draft this legislation and lobby for its passage. PFANJ president Matthew Caliente said, “With the signing of this legislation, we have ensured our families will no longer have to fight for the benefits they need during their time of mourning.”

The law is expected to bring more fairness to the workers’ compensation system, providing peace of mind to workers who know they will receive wage replacement and medical coverage for any illness or injuries sustained during the course of their employment. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected].

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