(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Jason O’Donnell to provide lifetime workers’ compensation benefits to surviving spouses of fire and police personnel who die in the line of duty.
“These are dangerous professions with potentially deadly consequences,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Police and fire personnel should have the peace of mind that their families will be provided for if they are killed in the line of duty. The work that they do and the risks they take warrants it.”
“Police and fire work is inherently dangerous. These firefighters and police personnel have families they have to provide for. In some cases, they may be the main breadwinners,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). ‘Making sure their families are provided for is the least we can do.”
“Few other professions involve the daily risks faced by firefighters and police personnel. This is a burden not just on them, but their families,” said O’Donnell (D-Hudson). “They should have the comfort of knowing that if their lives are ever claimed by the job, their families will be taken care of.”
The bill (A-2756) provides workers’ compensation benefits to surviving spouses of members of the state police or members of fire or police departments or forces who die in the line of duty during the entire period of their survivorship, even if the spouse remarries. Surviving spouses of deceased members of the state police or fire or police departments currently receive a lump sum upon any remarriage which occurs during the first 450 weeks of benefits. Under the bill, a surviving spouse of a state trooper or member of a fire or police department who died in the line of duty will continue to receive weekly workers’ compensation benefits as long as the surviving spouse lives, regardless of remarriage. The provisions of the bill do not apply to a surviving spouse of a member of the state police or member of a fire or police department who died in the line of duty if that surviving spouse received a lump sum payment or remarried prior to the effective date of the bill.
The bill was released by the Assembly Labor Committee.