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January 24, 2004 7:32 AM
The NJ Workers' Compensation Death Penalty Still Continues!

 S1522 Concerns workers' compensation for occupational disease claims and workers' compensation benefits rates for surviving dependents.Bills and Joint Resolutions Signed by the Governor

Death benefit rate. The bill provides that the standard workers' compensation death benefit for surviving dependents shall be 70 percent of the employee's wages, regardless of the number of dependents. Currently, these benefits are set at 50 percent of the employee's wages for one surviving dependant, plus 5 percent for each additional dependant up to a maximum of 70 percent. 

Liability for asbestos-related claims. The bill provides that in the case of a claim for compensation for an occupational disease resulting from exposure to asbestos, compensation shall be made from the uninsured employer's fund if, after due diligence 

* (1) The workers compensation insurer, the employer, or the principals of the employer where the claimant was last exposed cannot be located, or

* (2) The employee making the claim worked for more than one employer during the time in which the exposure to asbestos may reasonably be deemed to have taken place, but the employer or employers where the petitioner was last exposed cannot reasonably be identified.

Compensation will be based on the date of last exposure if known or, if not known, as determined by a workers' compensation judge. To ensure sufficient funding for the prompt payment of these claims, the bill directs that moneys necessary to cover them be transferred each calendar quarter to the uninsured employer's fund from the Second Injury Fund. The uninsured employer's fund will have a right of subrogation against any insurer or employer identified as liable or against the appropriate compensation security fund. 

The bill also repeals R.S.34:15-33, which requires the worker or the worker's dependents to notify the employer within five months after an exposure to an occupational disease ends, or within 90 days after the worker knew or should have known about the disease and its relation to the employment, whichever is later. Any claim for compensation will still be subject to the provisions of R.S.34:15-34, which require claims for compensation for occupational disease to be filed within two years after the claimant first knew the nature of the disability and its relation to the employment.

As reported by the committee, this bill is identical to Assembly Bill No.1927 (1R) as amended and reported by the committee.

Note: The bill allowing an increase to 100% was not enacted. See A1835 Increases workers' compensation benefits for dependents.Labor Identical Bill Number: S1416 Last Session Bill Number: A1125 Cohen, Neil M. as Primary Sponsor http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2002/Bills/A2000/1835_I1.HTM
1/12/2004 Passed Assembly (Passed Both Houses) (69-5-0) 1/14/2004 Approved P.L.2003, c.253. The Assembly Appropriations Committee reports favorably Senate Bill No.1522 (2R). http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2002/Bills/S2000/1522_R2.HTM

Senate Bill No.1522 (2R) revises the workers' compensation law to (i) enhance, in some cases, the amount of the death benefit payable under the law, and (ii) provide that certain claims for an asbestos-related occupational disease shall be payable from the uninsured employer's fund. 

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