A Brief History
In July of 2019, Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey signed into law a bill that enhanced the protection for first responders in the event that they became injured or disabled, as a result of their employment. S716 or otherwise known as the Thomas P. Canzanella Twenty First Century Responders Protection Act was named after Deputy Chief Thomas P. Canzanella, former Hackensack firefighter and advocate who served at ground zero after 9/11. This law reform created a rebuttable presumption of workers compensation coverage for first responders and public safety workers, who previously did not have this provided to them under the laws prior. Simply put, first responders and their families are being given a legally effective remedy for occupational injuries caused during service as a first responder.
First Responders and public safety workers are required by a need of necessity to take a great amount of personal risk of injury, illness, and death during their occupational service. After 9/11, the bill was enacted in efforts to ensure that any worker performing a potentially dangerous job would be afforded proper medical and financial care.
COVID-19 & New Legislation
The emergence of this pandemic has raised an array of questions regarding how workers rights, now going forward will be governed and protected.
The New Jersey assembly is expected to pass a worker compensation Covid-19 legislation. This bill has been passed by the state senate and has expected to be signed by Governor Phil Murphy. The bill is concerned with employment benefits and essential employees who contracted the coronavirus. However, if the presumption is disproven, an employee can become entitled to any New Jersey work-related benefits, compensation benefits, and any kind of work related accident disability benefits. If the bill is enacted, it would provide a rebuttable presumption for essential workers during this pandemic, just as the Thomas P. Canzanella Twenty First Century Responder Protection Act did for first responders and public safety workers.