SENATE, No. 109

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2010 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  CHRISTOPHER J. CONNORS

District 9 (Atlantic, Burlington and Ocean)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senator Ciesla

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Excludes certain illegal aliens from workers’ compensation and temporary disability benefits.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning workers’ compensation and temporary disability benefits, and amending R.S.34:15-36 and P.L.1948, c.110.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  R.S.34:15-36 is amended to read as follows:

     34:15-36.  “Willful negligence” within the intent of this chapter shall consist of (1) deliberate act or deliberate failure to act, or (2) such conduct as evidences reckless indifference to safety, or (3) intoxication, operating as the proximate cause of injury, or (4) unlawful use of a controlled dangerous substance as defined in the “New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act,” P.L.1970, c.226 (C.24:21-1 et seq.).

     “Employer” is declared to be synonymous with master, and includes natural persons, partnerships, and corporations; "employee" is synonymous with servant, and includes all natural persons, including officers of corporations, who perform service for an employer for financial consideration, exclusive of (1) employees eligible under the federal “Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act,” 44 Stat. 1424 (33U.S.C.s.901 et seq.), for benefits payable with respect to accidental death or injury, or occupational disease or infection; [and] (2) employees who are aliens unless they were lawfully admitted for permanent residence at the time the employment was performed, were lawfully present for the purpose of performing the employment, or otherwise were permanently residing in the United States under color of law at the time the employment was performed; and (3) casual employments, which shall be defined, if in connection with the employer’s business, as employment the occasion for which arises by chance or is purely accidental; or if not in connection with any business of the employer, as employment not regular, periodic or recurring; provided, however, that forest fire wardens and forest firefighters employed by the State of New Jersey shall, in no event, be deemed casual employees.

     A self-employed person, partners of a limited liability partnership, members of a limited liability company or partners of a partnership who actively perform services on behalf of the self-employed person’s business, the limited liability partnership, limited liability company or the partnership shall be deemed an “employee” of the business, limited liability partnership, limited liability company or partnership for purposes of receipt of benefits and payment of premiums pursuant to this chapter, if the business, limited liability partnership, limited liability company or partnership elects, when the workers’ compensation policy of the business, limited liability partnership, limited liability company or partnership is purchased or renewed, to obtain coverage for the person, the limited liability partners, the limited liability company members or the partners.  If the business, limited liability partnership, limited liability company or partnership elects to obtain coverage for the self-employed person, limited liability partners, limited liability company members or the partners, the election may only be made at purchase or at renewal and may not be withdrawn during the policy term.  If the business, limited liability partnership, limited liability company or partnership performs services covered under a homeowner’s policy or other policies providing comprehensive personal liability insurance for domestic servants, household employees or the dependents thereof, the workers’ compensation policy of the business, limited liability partnership, limited liability company or partnership shall have primary responsibility for the payment of benefits.  Notwithstanding the provisions of R.S.34:15-71 and 34:15-72, the business, limited liability partnership, limited liability company or partnership shall not be required to purchase a policy unless the business, limited liability partnership, limited liability company or partnership is an “employer” of a least one employee as defined in this section who is not a self-employed person, limited liability partner, limited liability company member or partner actively performing services on behalf of the business, limited liability partnership, limited liability company or partnership.

     Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no insurer or insurance producer as defined in section 2 of P.L.1987, c.293 (C.17:22A-2) shall be liable in an action for damages on account of the failure of a business, limited liability partnership, limited liability company or partnership to elect to obtain workers’ compensation coverage for a self-employed person, limited liability partner, limited liability company member or partner, unless the insurer or insurance producer causes damage by a willful, wanton or grossly negligent act of commission or omission.  Every application for workers’ compensation made on or after the effective date of this amendatory act shall include notice, as approved by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance, concerning the availability of workers’ compensation coverage for self-employed persons, limited liability partners, limited liability company members or partners.  That application shall also contain a notice of election of coverage and shall clearly state that coverage for self-employed persons, limited liability partners, limited liability company members and partners shall not be provided under the policy unless the application containing the notice of election is executed and filed with the insurer or insurance producer.  The application containing the notice of election shall also contain a statement that the insurer or insurance producer shall not be liable in an action for damages on account of the failure of a business, limited liability partnership, limited liability company or partnership to elect to obtain workers’ compensation coverage for a self-employed person, limited liability partner, limited liability company member or partner, unless the insurer or insurance producer causes damage by a willful, wanton or grossly negligent act of commission or omission.  The failure of a self-employed person, limited liability partnership, limited liability company or partnership to elect to obtain workers’ compensation coverage for the self-employed person, the limited liability partners, the limited liability company members or the partners shall not affect benefits available under any other accident or health policy.

     Employment shall be deemed to commence when an employee arrives at the employer’s place of employment to report for work and shall terminate when the employee leaves the employer’s place of employment, excluding areas not under the control of the employer; provided, however, when the employee is required by the employer to be away from the employer’s place of employment, the employee shall be deemed to be in the course of employment when the employee is engaged in the direct performance of duties assigned or directed by the employer; but the employment of employee paid travel time by an employer for time spent traveling to and from a job site or of any employee who utilizes an employer authorized vehicle shall commence and terminate with the time spent traveling to and from a job site or the authorized operation of a vehicle on business authorized by the employer.  Travel by a policeman, fireman, or a member of a first aid or rescue squad, in responding to and returning from an emergency, shall be deemed to be in the course of employment.

     Employment shall also be deemed to commence when an employee is traveling in a ridesharing arrangement between his or her place of residence or terminal near such place and his or her place of employment, if one of the following conditions is satisfied: the vehicle used in the ridesharing arrangement is owned, leased or contracted for by the employer, or the employee is required by the employer to travel in a ridesharing arrangement as a condition of employment.

     “Disability permanent in quality and partial in character” means a permanent impairment caused by a compensable accident or compensable occupational disease, based upon demonstrable objective medical evidence, which restricts the function of the body or of its members or organs; included in the criteria which shall be considered shall be whether there has been a lessening to a material degree of an employee's working ability.  Subject to the above provisions, nothing in this definition shall be construed to preclude benefits to a worker who returns to work following a compensable accident even if there be no reduction in earnings. Injuries such as minor lacerations, minor contusions, minor sprains, and scars which do not constitute significant permanent disfigurement, and occupational disease of a minor nature such as mild dermatitis and mild bronchitis shall not constitute permanent disability within the meaning of this definition.

     “Disability permanent in quality and total in character” means a physical or neuropsychiatric total permanent impairment caused by a compensable accident or compensable occupational disease, where no fundamental or marked improvement in such condition can be reasonably expected.

     Factors other than physical and neuropsychiatric impairments may be considered in the determination of permanent total disability, where such physical and neuropsychiatric impairments constitute at least 75% or higher of total disability.

     “Ridesharing” means the transportation of persons in a motor vehicle, with a maximum carrying capacity of not more than 15 passengers, including the driver, where such transportation is incidental to the purpose of the driver.  This term shall include such ridesharing arrangements known as carpools and vanpools.

     “Medical services, medical treatment, physicians’ services and physicians’ treatment” shall include, but not be limited to, the services which a chiropractor is authorized by law to perform and which are authorized by an employer pursuant to the provisions of R.S.34:15-1 et seq.

(cf:  P.L.1999, c.383, s.1)

 

     2.  Section 15 of P.L.1948, c.110 (C.43:21-39) is amended to read as follows:

     15.  Limitation of benefits.  Notwithstanding any other provision of the “Temporary Disability Benefits Law,” P.L.1948, c.110 (C.43:21-25 et seq.), no benefits shall be payable under the State plan to any person: 

     (a) for the first seven consecutive days of each period of disability; except that if benefits shall be payable for three consecutive weeks with respect to any period of disability commencing on or after January 1, 1968, then benefits shall also be payable with respect to the first seven days thereof;

     (b) for more than 26 weeks with respect to any one period of disability;

     (c) for any period of disability which did not commence while the claimant was a covered individual;

     (d) for any period during which the claimant is not under the care of a legally licensed physician, dentist, optometrist, podiatrist, practicing psychologist, or chiropractor, who, when requested by the division, shall certify within the scope of the practitioner’s practice, the disability of the claimant, the probable duration thereof, and, where applicable, the medical facts within the practitioner's knowledge;

     (e) (Deleted by amendment, P.L.1980, c.90.)

     (f) for any period of disability due to willfully and intentionally self-inflicted injury, or to injury sustained in the perpetration by the claimant of a crime of the first, second, or third degree;

     (g) for any period during which the claimant performs any work for remuneration or profit;

     (h) in a weekly amount which together with any remuneration the claimant continues to receive from the employer would exceed regular weekly wages immediately prior to disability;

     (i) for any period during which a covered individual would be disqualified for unemployment compensation benefits under subsection (d) of R.S.43:21-5, unless the disability commenced prior to such disqualification; and there shall be no other cause of disqualification or ineligibility to receive disability benefits hereunder except as may be specifically provided in this act;

     (j) for any period during which the claimant would be ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits under subsection (i) of R.S.43:21-4.

(cf:  P.L.2004, c.168, s.2)

 

     3.  This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill excludes illegal aliens from workers’ compensation coverage unless they were lawfully admitted for permanent residence at the time the employment was performed, were lawfully present for the purpose of performing the employment, or otherwise were permanently residing in the United States under color of law at the time the employment was performed.

     The bill also provides that illegal aliens will not be eligible to receive benefits pursuant to the “Temporary Disability Benefits Law,” P.L.1948, c.110 (C.43:21-25) if they are not eligible for benefits pursuant to the “unemployment compensation law,” R.S.43:21-1 et seq.

     This bill is in response to the decision of Mateo Coria v. Board of Review and National Fence Systems, No. A-5076-89-T5 (App. Div. 1991).  In that case, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court held that the “Temporary Disability Benefits Law” does not disqualify individuals for benefits based upon their status as illegal aliens.