As reported by the New Jersey Law Journal, the New Jersey Supreme Court has taken up the issue of whether a volunteer firefighter who was injured while responding to a fire should be awarded workers’ compensation benefits. The firefighter, Jennifer Kocanowski, is seeking to overturn an Appellate Division decision determining that, since she was
Award of Dependency Benefits to Police Officer’s Family Upheld
On April 17, 2009, the Appellate Division decided Tracey Wilde v. Township of Cranford, Docket No.: A-3391-07T2. In the case, the Workers’ Compensation Court awarded dependency benefits to petitioner, Tracey Wilde (“Tracey”) and her two children. On appeal, the Township of Cranford contended the court erred in finding that petitioner’s husband, Russell Scott Wilde, Sr., (“Wilde”) suffered a stress-induced occupational suicide which was compensable.
Wilde joined the Cranford Police Department in 1985. He was promoted to detective in 1990, sergeant in 1994, and lieutenant in 1999. As lieutenant, Wilde was responsible for supervising approximately fifteen patrolmen and two sergeants. During the course of his fourteen-year career, Wilde received numerous awards for professionalism and heroism.
On September 16, 1999, when Hurricane Floyd struck, Wilde was designated Incident Commander and he was put in charge of coordinating the Township’s rescue and recovery efforts. From September 16, 1999 to September 18, 1999, Wilde worked approximately 38 hours in a 51 hour period.
Tracey testified that her husband did not come home from work on September 16, 1999. When she visited him at the police station on September 17, 1999, she stated he was the only one “with his heavy rain gear on” even though the sun was out. She also testified that her husband was “wired” when he arrived home on that Friday evening, he could not “settle down,” and he did “not really” sleep “much” that night. Thereafter, Wilde left for work at approximately 5:00 or 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning and did not return home until approximately 6:00 p.m.
Later that evening, Tracey and Wilde attended a fellow police officer’s wedding. Tracey testified that her husband looked “very tired” so she drove to the wedding. During the reception, Tracey did not note anything unusual in his behavior. Before leaving the wedding, Wilde spoke to his father, Harry Wilde, who was Chief of Police for the Township. After Wilde spoke with his father, Tracey testified he “seemed more wired again and more…on edge and worrying about the next day, and what…his duties were going to be.”
As Tracey drive home, Wilde appeared tired, and he was talking about the next day. Tracey testified that Wilde appeared to be worried about what was going to happen the next day, which was unusual because he was not a “worrier.” After arriving home, Tracey and Wilde went to their bedroom, wherein Wilde was discussing what happened at work and stating he was “very exhausted.” Tracey further testified that although her husband was not a religious person, he stated “you have to be so thankful for God. You must have an angel looking over you….You know how lucky we are. We had an angel looking over us.” According to Tracey, her husband “never talked like that before,” and it was “very strange.”
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Workers’ Comp Reform Instituted
On October 1, 2008, Governor Jon Corzine signed into law five bills aimed at fixing New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation System. Significantly, the bills should reduce the long delays in making injured workers whole. The legislation, the State’s first workers’ compensation overhaul in thirty years, was the product of public hearings that followed a series …
Partial and Total Disabilty Benefits under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation System
Last week we spoke about medical benefits in the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation System. In this entry we will give a brief overview regarding total permanent disability benefits, and partial total disability benefits.
The third type of benefit that an injured worker is entitled to receive under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act is commonly referred…
Medical Benefits Under The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act
We haven’t spoken about the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation system in a little while and there is still a great amount of information regarding the available benefits that all public safety officers and first responders should be made aware of. With that being said, let’s talk a little about medical benefits under the New Jersey Workers Compensation…
Sick Leave Injury (SLI)–The Common Reasons for Denial of Benefits
As you may remember from the June 27, 2008 blog entry, injured New Jersey Public Safety Officers may be entitled to receive Sick Leave Injury benefits or “SLI” benefits due to their inability to report for duty due to illness, injury, or infirmity that occurred on the job. This particular entry is written by Michael …
Temporary Total Disability Benefits and Sick Leave Injury (SLI) Benefits Under The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act
Let’s talk about temporary total disability benefits injured public safety officers are entitled to receive under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act.
The New Jersey Workers Compensation Act provides each employee who has suffered a workplace injury with temporary total disability benefits. Temporary total disability benefits are those benefits that are most akin, or similar, to…
New Jersey Workers’ Compensation 101–An Overview of the System
This will be the first entry of many regarding the topic of workers’ compensation in New Jersey. This topic, perhaps more than any other is of particular import to the public safety officer. This is due to the inherent dangers and physicality of police, fire and corrections work. If you are a public safety officer and reading this…
Federal Corrections Officer Murdered at Atwater US Penitentiary
I was driving home from a legal seminar in Northern Virginia today when I received and E-Mail message from Sergeant Steve Brzdek, President of The New Jersey Law Enforcement Supervisors Association, the collective bargaining unit that represents all New Jersey State Supervisory Law Enforcement Personnel. The E-mail informed me that a Federal Corrections Officer was…