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What is a compensable occupational disease under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act?

Thousands of employees suffer work-related accidents in New Jersey every year. Job accidents commonly involve bodily injuries from slips, falls, trips, overexertion, motor vehicle accidents, falling objects, and getting caught in or between objects. However, an employee can develop an illness from items, chemicals and other exposure in the workplace. In some incidents, the workers must miss days from work. For accidents that result in long-term physical and health issues, the employee may require restrictions on his work duties or job transfers.

The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act defines a compensable occupational disease as a disease that arises out of and in the course of employment. The illnesses significantly occur because of conditions and events characteristic of the particular profession and may be typical for the processes or location of the job.

Workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for employees to receive compensation for occupational illness. The no-fault insurance coverage provides medical care, wage compensation and disability benefits for the worker’s condition and time out from work. If the employee dies from the disease, the dependents may receive death benefits, including wage compensation, funeral expenses and burial costs.

The employee or eligible dependents do not receive benefits if the worker knowingly or intentionally acted in a manner in his employment that caused him to contract the disease. Behavior that may bar a claimant from receiving behavior are:

  • Willfully exposing themself to a known hazard
  • Failing to use the proper protective equipment provided and required by the employer
  • Noncompliance with the safety requirements and documentation by the employer of repeated warnings to comply

The time limit to file a formal workers’ compensation claim petition with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation for a work-related injury is two years from the accident date. An employee has a deadline to file a claim for occupational disease benefits is two years from the date they first knew they had the disease.

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