As an emergency medical technician (EMT), you face a number of safety and health risks every day you do your job. From auto accidents to infectious diseases, virtually all aspects of your job put you at risk for potentially-serious injuries and illnesses.
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employees in the health care and social assistance sector suffer more work-related injuries and illnesses than employees in any other occupation. The BLS’s most-recent data indicates that 577,500 health care and social workers suffered non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2018, which is nearly 150,000 more than the next most dangerous sector.
If you are an emergency medical technician and you have been injured or become ill on the job, what are your legal rights? If you live in New Jersey, can you file for workers’ compensation?
In New Jersey, EMTs are Generally Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Generally speaking, EMTs are covered by workers’ compensation in New Jersey. Most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance (or self-insure for employees’ injuries and illnesses), and this includes nearly every company that hires EMTs. So, whether you work for a public entity, a hospital, or a private ambulance or medical transport company – and perhaps even if you volunteer – if you got hurt or sick on the job, there is a good chance that you have a claim for benefits.
In fact, as an EMT, you may be entitled to full wage replacement benefits under workers’ compensation. In most cases, employees’ wage replacement (or “disability”) benefits are limited to no more than 70% of their weekly gross wages. However, many public safety workers in New Jersey are covered by collective bargaining agreements that entitle them to additional benefits, and some EMTs in the private sector may be covered by agreements that entitle them to receive full wage replacement as well. Your employer can provide you with this information.
When Can You File for Workers’ Compensation as an EMT?
Assuming you are eligible for workers’ compensation, when can you file a claim for benefits? The short answer is that you can file any time you suffer a work-related injury or illness. Unless you were drunk or high, or you did something to intentionally put yourself at risk that fell outside of the scope of your employment, you can file a claim regardless of the specific cause of your injury or illness.
For example, the following are all common causes of work-related injuries and illnesses for which EMTs can generally seek workers’ compensation benefits:
- Auto Accidents – If you were injured in an accident involving an ambulance or you were struck by a moving vehicle while doing your job, your injuries should be covered. Commuting accidents generally are not covered, but there are some exceptions.
- Fires, Explosions, and Building Collapse – If you were injured in a fire, explosion, or building collapse while attempting to rescue or treat a patient, your injuries should be covered by workers’ compensation as well. For the purposes of workers’ compensation, it does not matter where you were injured as long as you were injured within the course and scope of your employment.
- Infectious Diseases – Contracting infectious diseases from patients is a very real risk for EMTs, especially with COVID-19, and these illnesses are also covered by workers’ compensation. If you have gotten sick and you believe your illness may be work-related, you should speak with an attorney about your legal rights. To learn more about the recent New Jersey legislation covering essential workers for COVID-19, click here: Governor Murphy Signs Covid-19 Workers’ Compensation Bill Into Law Covering Essential Workers
- Lifting, Twisting, and Squatting Injuries – Back and other injuries caused by lifting, twisting, and squatting can also support claims for workers’ compensation benefits. This is true whether you suffered an acute traumatic injury or your pain is due to WEAR and TEAR.
- Patient–Caused Injuries – If you were attacked or otherwise injured by a patient who was intoxicated or incoherent, your injuries should be covered under your employer’s workers’ compensation policy.
- Slips, Trips, and Falls – Injuries from job-related slips, trips, and falls are eligible for workers’ compensation coverage in New Jersey. This is true whether you slipped on snow or ice, you fell out of the back of an ambulance, or you tripped over a walkway obstruction in the hospital.
Speak with a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for EMTs
Were you injured on the job? Did you get sick as the result of being exposed to a patient’s illness? Whether you are an EMT or any other type of heath care worker, the workers’ compensation attorneys at Petro Cohen, P.C. can help you file for workers’ comp benefits and will work hard to make sure you receive all of the benefits to which you may be entitled.
Many of our clients do not realize that workers’ compensation offers a variety of benefits including the following.
- Medical Benefits: Workers’ Compensation insurance covers “necessary and reasonable” medical expenses.
- Temporary Total Benefits: In the event a qualified employee sustains a disability that lasts over seven consecutive days, they will be deemed eligible for temporary total benefits.
- Permanent Partial Benefits: In circumstances when an employee incurs a permanent physical disability due to a workplace injury or illness, the associated workers’ compensation benefits are premised on the worker’s functional loss.
- Permanent Total Benefits: An employee is entitled to receive permanent total disability benefits in instances where the workplace injury or illness precludes them from performing any category of gainful employment in the future.
- Death Benefits: Dependents of an employee who is killed in a work-related accident may qualify for death benefits and funeral costs of up to $3,500.
Don’t leave money on the table! Our attorneys have the experience, skills, and credentials, as well as a proven track record of success to help navigate your case and bring closure to your claim.
For a free consultation with one of Petro Cohen’s highly-experienced attorneys at one of our four offices in southern New Jersey (Northfield, Hamilton, Cherry Hill, or Cape May Court House), call us today at 888-675-7607, or send us a message online or via e-mail at info@PetroCohen.com