The New Jersey Workers' Compensation act has a pretty liberal definition of who qualifies as an employee. To determine whether an individual is part of an employee-employers relationship the courts have devised two 'tests.' There is the 'control test' which asks what the nature of the relationship between the business and individual is. If the business has the right to supervise and control the individuals actions and how those actions should be completed, the courts would be hard pressed not to find that individual an employee. In the 'relative nature of the work' test the court will look at the relationship between employer and individual to determine if the individual relies on the earnings to live, and if the individual's duties are an essential part of the employers business.
When one or both of these tests is passed the state views the relationship as employer-employee.
Keep this in mind, as you read the following and think whether workers' compensation should be granted.
The Supreme Court of New Jersey will take up the case of a woman who was injured while working as a volunteer firefighter and is now seeking benefits.
The fundamentals of the case are that Jennifer Kocanowski, who had been volunteering for 14 years, was responding to a fire on March 6 2015 when she slipped and fell on ice. She subsequently underwent numerous operations to repair a broken right leg. Jennifer filed for workers' comp benefits, but Bridgewater Township objected to the claim. Their position is that because she was not collecting a salary, she is not entitled to benefits.
Although trained as a home nurse aid she had not worked since 2013. Appellate Judge Karen Suter wrote, “Kocanowski’s claim is at odds with the underlying reason for awarding temporary disability, which is to replace lost wages.”
It should be noted that Kocanowski was seeking $855 a week in compensation.
The big question the Supreme Court will be seeking to answer is whether a volunteer deserves to be compensated when there was no expectation of wages.
If you are seeking representation for a Workers' Compensation case call today for a free consultation 800-709-1131 or fill out a contact form on our website for a no-cost consultation.We hope to hear from you today!