Measure Would Help First Responders Get Workers Comp
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. May 9, 2013
A New Jersey Senate committee has advanced legislation that would make it easier for first responders to get workers compensation for ailments resulting from exposure to hazardous materials.
Current law requires police, firefighters, and other emergency personnel to prove a disease resulted from a hazardous incident.
The legislation presumes those workers are entitled to compensation and allows employers to challenge that.
Paul Bent represents the municipal excess liability joint insurance fund. He says an actuarial service for the fund indicates the change could be costly.
“On the cancer presumption alone they believe that it will double what New Jersey currently pays in benefits in workers comp and cost approximately 400 million dollars.”
Senator Linda Greenstein says other states with presumptive disability benefits haven't seen big increases.
“The statistics show that it would not present financial problems for the state of New Jersey.”
West Windsor council president George Borek says volunteer firefighters deserve to be compensated for health problems they suffer from responding to emergencies.
“They need to know that the township is going to be there for them if something happens. Because if they don’t know that they’re being taken care of, if something does happen, I’m not going to have volunteers.”
Senator Greenstein says 9-11 emergency responders had to wait a long time to get their benefits, and the legislation is an attempt to make sure that doesn’t happen in New Jersey.