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Are Volunteers Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

If you perform volunteer work in New Jersey, you may wonder whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation coverage from the organization for which you volunteer if you are injured or develop an occupational illness in the course and scope of your volunteering. 

The short answer is, yes, some volunteers are entitled to coverage under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law.

Volunteer Coverage Under New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Law

In New Jersey, a volunteer may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when their volunteer duty involves public or official duty. Examples of volunteer positions for which workers’ compensation coverage is typically afforded under New Jersey law includes:

  • Volunteer firefighters
  • Volunteer EMS/rescue squad workers
  • Reserve police officers
  • Board of education members
  • Local elected or appointed officials

Many other organizations that routinely use volunteers may not be required to offer workers’ compensation, such as charitable or non-profit organizations, educational institutions, or religious entities. However, these organizations may choose to obtain workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their volunteers.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits Available to Injured Volunteers

Volunteers who perform public or official work and suffer a volunteer-related injury or illness are entitled to the full scope of workers’ compensation benefits under New Jersey law, including reasonable and necessary medical treatment, hospitalization, rehabilitation, and prescriptions (although the volunteer organization or its insurer will choose the treating provider). 

Although a big portion of workers’ compensation benefits include partial wage replacement or disability benefits based on an injured worker’s wages, which can seem uncertain for a volunteer who receives no wages, or at most fringe benefits. However, your entitlement to benefits will be based upon statute and you will receive the workers’ disability benefits from the volunteer organization for which you were volunteering when injured. However, an injured volunteer must be actually disabled from working to be entitled to temporary disability benefits; falsely claiming income from another job may constitute insurance fraud.

What to Do If You Are Injured While Volunteering

If you are injured or suffer an occupational illness from public or official volunteer work, you should always remember to:

  • Immediately report your injury or illness to a supervisor or to your volunteer organization
  • Document evidence from your accident scene, if possible
  • File a workers’ compensation claim with the volunteer’s organization’s insurer if your volunteer organization fails to do so
  • Seek medical attention for your injury or illness (which is provided by the volunteer organization’s insurance carrier)
  • Always follow all treatment instructions or recommendations; ignoring or deferring treatment may lead to claims that you weren’t as injured as you claim or that you’ve reached maximum medical improvement
  • Consult with a workers’ compensation attorney about your legal rights and options

A workers’ compensation lawyer can advise you as to whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from your volunteer organization and ensure that you receive the full benefits to which you are entitled, especially if your injury or illness prevents you from working in your other gainful employment. 

Contact a Rochelle Park Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Discuss Your New Jersey Workplace Injury Case

A workplace injury can be devastating, particularly if it prevents you from returning to work for an extended period of time. Although New Jersey Workers’ Compensation laws are supposed to provide you with reimbursement for medical expenses and replacement pay for missed time at work, it is not always easy to get the Workers’ Compensation benefits you deserve. That is why you should speak with a knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation lawyer about your situation and get guidance throughout the claims process. The experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. represent clients in Hackensack, Teaneck, Fort Lee, Fair Lawn, and all across New Jersey. Call 201-231-7847 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation about your work injury case. Our main office is located at 340 West Passaic Street, Rochelle Park, NJ 07662.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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