Essential Workers and Workers’ Compensation for Contracting COVID-19

Typically, to receive workers’ compensation in New Jersey, an employee must prove they suffered a job-related illness or injury.

Essential Workers and Workers’ Compensation for Contracting COVID-19A recent law creates a presumption during the ongoing public health crisis that essential employees’ illnesses are related to their work. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Senate Bill (SB) 2380 into law. SB 2380 creates a rebuttable presumption of workers’ compensation coverage for COVID-19 cases contracted by “essential employees” during a public health emergency declared by the executive order of the governor. The law is effective immediately and retroactive to March 9, 2020.

The law defines an essential employee as an employee in public or private sector who during a state of emergency

Public Safety Worker or First Responder

  • including any fire, police, or other emergency responders

Providing Care Related Services

  • medical and other healthcare services, emergency transportation, social services, and other care services, including services provided in health care facilities, residential facilities, or homes

Essential Roles in Close Proximity to the Public

  • performs functions that 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

Deemed Essential Employee by Public Authority

  • Any other employee deemed an essential employee by the public authority declaring the state of emergencies such as grocery store workers, pharmacy employees, medical supply stores, gas station attendants, convenience store employees, cashiers and store clerks, childcare employees, or construction workers.

What Does the Law Say?

Under the law, in a public health emergency declared by the governor, if an individual contract COVID-19 during a time in which the individual is working as an essential employee in a place of employment other than the individual’s own residence, there will be a rebuttable presumption that the contraction of the disease is work-related and fully compensable for workers’ compensation benefits.  A rebuttable presumption is an assumption made by a court taken to be true unless someone comes forward to contest it and prove otherwise. For example, a defendant in a criminal case is presumed innocent until proved guilty. A rebuttable presumption is often associated with prima facie evidence.

An employer may rebut this presumption by a preponderance of the evidence showing that the worker was not exposed to the disease while working in a place of employment other than the individual’s own residence.

Establishing a presumption of compensability for certain essential workers during the pandemic has become a growing trend among states that significantly lessens an employee’s burden of proving that a COVID-19–related illness is compensable under workers’ compensation laws. Details of these state law amendments vary. In states that have implemented a rebuttable presumption, such as New Jersey, employers will face the difficult burden of proving that an alleged COVID-19 contraction is not work-related. However, while employers in these states may be faced with an uptick in workers’ compensation claims, employers will also likely be insulated from civil liability pursuant to the workers’ compensation bar, absent some exceptions to the bar, such as the intentional injury exception.

How Will This Impact Employers?

Contact Trenton NJ Workers Compensation Lawyers TodayThis law will encourage the filing of workers’ compensation claims for COVID-19 infections. It makes defending an occupational infection case much harder for employers. This law provides that losses associated with workers’ compensation claims are not be included in calculating an employer’s Experience Modifier Rate or otherwise affect an employer’s insurance premium rate for the employer’s workers’ compensation policy. This would provide some protection to employers against any increased premiums.

It is not new for New Jersey to take such proactive measures to protect its public safety employees. New Jersey was at the forefront in creating protection for first responders, including first aid and rescue squad members, police, correction officers, nurses, medical technicians, and other medical personnel with the Canzanella Act‘s passage in July 2019, which created a rebuttable presumption of workers’ compensation coverage for those who can establish evidence of exposures to communicable diseases in the workplace. This Act was already being applied to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this latest presumption greatly expands the definition of “essential employees” to many individuals working in the private sector.

Contact Trenton NJ Workers Compensation Lawyers Today

Our team’s skill, and dedication to your family, can make all the difference in securing compensation for the unwarranted loss of your loved one in  Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, and the greater Mercer County area.

It is good to know that protection for essential workers and compensation is available if needed.  If you have a workers’ compensation case, feel free to contact The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson online or through our Trenton office at 609.528.2596. We look forward to working with you.

 

Emotional Distress and Monetary Compensation in New Jersey

Emotional distress is a type of mental health temporary disorder or anguish experienced due to an incident caused on purpose or by negligence.

Emotional Distress and Monetary Compensation in New JerseyThe court accepts emotional distress as a personal injury that can be eligible for compensation by filing a civil lawsuit. You would need to provide sufficient evidence or proof that someone else is responsible for causing your emotional distress or trauma to validate your claim.

In most scenarios, for an emotional distress claim to be approved, you would be required to have sustained physical injuries due to an incident. However, cases of victims suffering emotional distress damages have recently been deemed valid, even if there is no evidence of physical harm or visible injuries.

Is Emotional Distress Considered Part Of A Claim?

Insurance coverage will cover a portion or all of the damages, depending on the liability determined for each case. Still, there are sometimes left-over out-of-pocket expenses that you also need to consider and honor. You can quickly calculate how much income you have stopped receiving or paid out towards fully recovering from an injury or accident by just adding up receipts, medical bills, invoices, and pay-stubs.

Yet other expenses are less obvious and trickier to predict. When the injury extends to mental wellbeing, it is far more difficult to calculate how much you will require to invest in the future to make a full recovery. When is it advisable to file for monetary compensation to recuperate from emotional grievances in New Jersey?

There are two widespread scenarios:

Emotional and Physical Distress (Pain and Suffering)

Whenever a car accident or slip and fall are due to negligence, the mental health and emotional injuries caused by the event will usually fall under the “non-economic” damages portion of the insurance coverage, which would, of course, include what is known as pain and suffering. No limit or highest rate (“cap”) has been established in New Jersey regarding the total amount of damages you deem suitable.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)

In New Jersey, if another party deliberately provokes a scenario to cause you an emotional wreck, it is thus classified as an unlawful act or tort known as IIED or “Intentional infliction of emotional distress.” However, negligence is easier to prove in court than this tort. In the case of Buckley v. Trenton Saving Fund Society, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed that to presume another party as liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the injured subject is obligated to prove one of the following:

  • The other party performed a reckless or intentional action to cause emotional distress.
  • The other party’s actions were “so flagrant in character, and so severe, as to surpass any possible limits of decency, and therefore considered heinous, and ultimately intolerable in a civilized community.”
  • The other party’s actions caused emotional distress,
  • The emotional distress experienced was “far greater than what any reasonable person is expected to endure.”

Contact our Woodland Park, NJ Pedestrian Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers for a Free ConsultationEmotional and psychological harm, such as but not limited to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are as equally detrimental and disabling as physical injuries. Stress-related symptoms such as feeling overwhelmed, fatigue, poor problem-solving, social withdrawal, changes in behavior, feelings of sadness, loss of emotional control, and frustration are a few of the many ways in which PTSD may affect your life and therefore be eligible for monetary compensation.

Contact our Woodland Park, NJ Pedestrian Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one have suffered from extreme emotional distress caused by somebody else’s intentional act or negligence, talk to an experienced New Jersey personal injury compensation lawyer who can assist you in better comprehending and exploring your legal options.

At The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, our experienced team of attorneys is ready to stand in your corner.  If you live in Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, and the greater Mercer County area.  You can call us at 609.528.2596 or contact us through our online contact form.

New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Covers Covid-19 for Essential Employees

In a move that distinguished New Jersey from many other states, Governor Phil Murphy signed Senate Bill 2380 into law on September 14, 2020, providing workers’ compensation coverage to essential workers.

New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Covers Covid-19 for Essential EmployeesThis law is a rebuttable presumption, meaning that the court assumes that workers’ compensation benefits extend to essential employees until the decision is contested and proven otherwise. This law took effect upon its signing on September 14 and was retroactively applied to March 9, 2020, when Governor Murphy first declared a state of emergency.

Under the law, an essential employee is defined as “an employee in public or private sector who during a state of emergency:

  • (1) is a public safety worker or first responder, including any fire, police, or other emergency responders;
  • (2) 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;
  • (3) performs functions that 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
  • (4) is any other employee deemed an essential employee by the public authority declaring the state of emergency?”

Emergency Employees outside of Medical and Healthcare Providers

The bill distinguishes that any employee given the option to work from home during a state of emergency is not considered an essential employee. The line blurs in considering what an essential employee, if not someone working from home, is. For this reason, the fourth component of the definition of an essential employee is broad. In this case, the “public authority declaring the state of emergency” is Governor Murphy. Any directives he gives that specifically name members of the community as essential employees not subject to quarantining protocol, for example, are to be upheld by this law. Some examples of employees that may be considered emergency employees and fall outside of the realm of medical and healthcare providers, which are traditionally seen as essential employees, are

  • employees of pharmacies
  • grocery store employees
  • childcare providers to essential employees
  • gas station employees
  • select market cashiers
  • construction workers

What kind of coverage is afforded to Essential Employees?

With the definition of essential employee established, the consideration shifts to what kind of coverage is afforded if an essential employee contracts Covid-19. Under SB2380, if essential employee contracts Covid-19 while working outside of their own home, they can receive full workers’ compensation benefits for their medical treatment and lost pay.

This law is a rebuttable presumption that means that an employer can argue that the employee was not at risk of contracting the virus during working hours. This can be shown by providing evidence of safety measures and hygiene protocols limiting contact with others. In some cases, it can also be shown by proving that the employee was unsafely in close contact with others outside of work.

Contact Our Mercer County Workers Compensation Attorneys Today

Experience Modification Factor

Fortunately for employers, workers’ compensation claims related to this rebuttable presumption providing coverage for Covid-19 illness are not calculated towards the company’s Experience Modification Factor. The Experience Modification Factor is a company’s safety rating determining their workers’ compensation premium. A company with safety protocols and systems leads to fewer injuries, and workers’ compensation claims receive a lower Experience Modification Factor. Those that have a higher percentage of workers’ compensation claims have a higher Experience Modification Factor. If a company’s workers’ compensation claims are amplified due to Covid-19 cases on the workforce, their safety score and insurance premium rate will not be adversely affected.

The rise in claims due to COVID requires patience from employees.

Because the bill’s signing into law took retroactive effect beginning when the initial state of emergency was called in March, employers expected the rise in workers’ compensation claims filed during that time. They were advised to handle new Covid-19-related claims as they would other claims. The backlog in addressing the claims has proven problematic for many companies who have already seen a workforce decrease due to sickness. Employers are advised to await results while maintaining awareness of the timeframe passed patiently.

Contact Our Mercer County Workers Compensation Attorneys Today

If you consider you have a claim and reside in Mercer County, Trenton, Princeton, and Hamilton, please contact us online or through our Trenton, NJ office (609) 528-2596 a free and confidential consultation regarding your case options for recovering compensation.

Types, Symptoms, and Treatment for Burn Injuries in the Workplace

If you have suffered a burn injury at work, it is highly recommended that you contact an experienced worker’s compensation and personal injury attorney.

Types, Symptoms, and Treatment for Burn Injuries in the WorkplaceBurn injuries can occur anywhere and at any time. However, according to The American Bar Association, occupational burn injuries accounted for some 6% of all burns studied between 2002 and 2011. Moreover, The Bureau of Labor Statistics also found that heat burns caused workers to miss on average 5 days of work and chemical burns 3 days of work. If you have suffered a burn injury at work and feel it may be serious, despite what your employer may say, it is highly recommended that you contact an experienced worker’s compensation and personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Though anyone can suffer from a workplace burn injury, some occupations come with a higher risk for this type of injury.

Some of the primary occupations that involve burn hazards include but are by no means limited to:

  • Electricians
  • Janitorial Work
  • Construction Workers
  • Food Prep Workers (Chefs, Cooks, Servers)
  • Healthcare Workers
  • Fire Fighters
  • Mechanics

Burn injuries can fall into one or more different categories:

  • Electrical Burns -This type of burn may happen if electricity passes through a person’s body. This type of burn is not only suffered by electricians or those who work directly with electricity. Motor vehicles contain an elaborate electrical system, and there are many opportunities for an electrical burn to occur in a car accident. Besides, if power lines or other electrical equipment are damaged in the accident, electrical burn injuries may occur.
  • Heat Burns– These are the most common types of burns that occur. These types of burns could happen if there is an open flame from gas that has caught on fire, heat escaping from the radiator, or if a person comes in contact with any hot surface, steam, or liquid.
  • Chemical Burns-There many industries such as sanitation and cleaning, automotive, healthcare, and many others that work around extremely corrosive chemicals daily. When spills occur or proper care is not taken, severe chemical burn injuries can be suffered.

It is important to remember that burn injuries have many different causes and can occur while working or just in everyday life. They can be painful and very serious and may lead to lifelong scarring in addition to severe pain and disability. The website WebMD provides a list of three types of burns that everyone should be aware of:

  • 1st-degree burns are mild compared to other burns. They may result in pain and reddening of the skin’s outer layer, also known as the epidermis.
  • 2nd-degree burns affect the epidermis and the dermis, which is the lower layer of skin. They will usually cause pain, redness, swelling, and blistering.
  • 3rd-degree burns are also known as full-thickness burns, and they penetrate the dermis and affect deeper tissues. The result is often white or blackened, charred skin that may lose sensation and become be numb.

Symptoms of burn injuries

The symptoms of burns are wide-ranging and depend on the cause and type of burn.

They often include:

  • Blistering
  • Pain- In most cases, however, the degree of pain is not always related to the burn’s severity, given that the most serious burns may be painless.
  • Peeling skin
  • Reddened or white and even charred skin
  • Shock
  • Swelling

Treatment for Burn Injuries

Treatment for Burn InjuriesHealthline.com  provides a list of recommended actions if you or someone you know suffers a burn or heat-related injury, whether at home or in the workplace.

First-degree burns can usually be easily treated. In the event of a first-degree burn injury, you should:

  • Soak the wound in cool water for five minutes or longer
  • Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief
  • Apply a lidocaine cream with aloe vera gel to soothe the skin
  • Use an antibiotic ointment and loose gauze to cover and protect the affected area.

Second-degree burns can often range from severe to mild. For any severe burn, you should immediately seek medical attention. However, treatments for a mild second-degree burn generally include:

  • Running the skin under cool water for 15 minutes or more.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain medication, usually acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Applying antibiotic cream to blisters
  • Applying a lidocaine cream with aloe vera gel to soothe the skin

In cases of third-degree burns, you should never attempt to self-treat a third-degree burn instead of calling 911 immediately. Before medical treatment arrives, you should raise the injury above your heart. It would help if you did not get undressed, but it is recommended to make sure no clothing is stuck to the burn, given that this can lead to infection.

Contact Our Mercer County Personal Injury Attorneys Today

At The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, our experienced team of personal injury lawyers represents clients across Mercer County, Trenton, Princeton, and Hamilton in all types of workers’ compensation claims involving burn injuries.  Our unique approach is centered on our clients and ensuring that they receive the compensation and support they deserve to be made whole and get back to work as soon as possible.

To schedule a confidential consultation with our firm today to discuss your claim, please contact us online or through our Trenton, NJ office at (609) 528-2596 for a free and confidential consultation regarding your specific case and the options for recovering compensation.

Should I File a Personal Injury Claim or a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims attorneys with offices in East Brunswick and Trenton NJ

Should I File a Personal Injury Claim or a Workers' Compensation Claim?At Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson, we have successfully helped many clients to pursue both personal injury claims as well as workers’ compensation claims in Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, and the greater Mercer County area.

It is important for our clients to understand both the similarities and differences between personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims, as they are pursued in very different manners, and have very different compensation structures. Let’s take a closer look.

What Qualifies as a Mercer County Personal Injury Claim?

The biggest difference between personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims is what circumstances qualify for either claim. That is to say, in any personal injury case like a car accident, construction accident, a slip and fall, or a truck accident for examples, the plaintiff (you) and their Mercer County personal injury attorney need to prove that another party’s reckless or negligent actions were responsible for your injuries. Just because you were injured in a car accident doesn’t necessarily mean you have a personal injury case, you need to prove that the other driver(s) hold the majority of fault for your accident.

What Qualifies as a Mercer County Workers’ Compensation Claim?

On the other hand, in order to file and receive compensation in a workers’ compensation claim, you do not need to prove fault of any kind. In fact, even if your actions directly lead to your injuries, as long as you were performing work-related duties, you and your Trenton workers’ compensation lawyer can file for a Mercer County workers’ compensation claim.

The Difference in Compensation for Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Claims

Besides the requirements for proving fault (or in the case of workers’ compensation not needing to prove any fault), workers’ compensation awards and personal injury awards have one major difference. In both cases, you can receive monetary compensation for any medical expenses associated with your injuries, as well as lost wages or future income. The major difference in terms of compensation for a workers’ comp case and a personal injury case is compensation for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering generally make up the largest portion of personal injury recovery, but cannot be recovered in the case of a workers’ compensation claim.

The other major difference is the time and effort involved with both. Personal injury claims can often take more than a year to negotiate and eventually resolve, while with the help of an experienced Trenton workers’ compensation attorney, you can usually resolve your workers’ compensation case in a matter of months.

Should I file for Personal Injury or Workers Compensation? Mercer County Attorney Discusses

There is no easy answer to this question. Each case is unique, with many different factors to consider. Can you prove fault? Can you afford to wait the time it will take to resolve a personal injury claim, or is the time worth the potential recovery of pain and suffering damages?

There are many different factors to consider, and your best option is to speak with an experienced Mercer County injury attorney who can discuss your options, likely outcomes, and advise you which course of action may be favorable in your case.

Contact a Princeton Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

Whether you ultimately decide to pursue a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim, it is extremely important that you retain experienced legal counsel in order to help you navigate the process, protect your rights, and help you secure the best possible resolution for your case.

The Trenton Law Office of Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson has been defending personal injury and workers’ compensation clients since 1972. We have a proven track record of success when it comes to giving honest and professional legal advice, and securing the compensation that our clients need and deserve.

To speak with one of our attorneys today in a free and confidential consultation regarding either a personal injury claim or a workers’ compensation claim, please contact us online or through our Trenton office at 609.528.2596.