A tractor trailer slammed into a fire engine at the Wood Ave Emergency Access Road just after 9 a.m. Tuesday, October 29, 2019. According to State police, the semi-truck hit the firetruck as it was getting off the exit. EMS had to extricate one firefighter from the truck, and in all, three firefighters were hospitalized with significant injuries.
The driver of the tractor-trailer wasn’t injured, and the accident is still under investigation. So far, no charges have been filed.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 600 emergency responders die each year in traffic accidents. The vast majority of these are law enforcement, and 40 of these are fire fighters and EMS personnel.
These fatalities came from 30,000 police vehicle crashes (16,000 injured) and 7,000 fire and EMS crashes (2,400 injuries).
When these injuries happen to a first responder, there are two primary sources of compensation. In New Jersey, like most states, police, fire and ems workers are covered by a worker’s compensation program that will pay certain limited benefits for anyone injured on the job.
However, the amount paid is set by law, and the worker gets much less than they would if the compensation was paid through a personal injury lawsuit.
It makes no difference if the injury was caused by the worker or by someone else. These benefits include medical bills, lost time from work, job retraining, future loss of wages (disability) and even death benefits if the worker dies.
In addition to worker’s compensation benefits, if the emergency worker is injured by a negligent driver, the victim can claim compensation against the driver so long as the negligence was the cause of the injuries.
For example, if a fire truck is hit by another vehicle injuring a fire fighter, he or she can get workers compensation benefits and then seek compensation from the driver. In these cases, if the driver has auto insurance, then that will pay for the damages and injuries incurred by the victim.
This typically includes medical bills, lost time from work, pain and suffering, future disability, and wrongful death compensation if applicable.
You might be wondering how the injured worker/auto accident victim can get paid for medical bills and lost time from work from both WC benefits and from the negligent driver. The law allows WC to get paid back for any benefits paid to the worker from the driver who was responsible for the accident. Thus, any benefits paid by WC such as medical bills, lost time from work, disability, the WC insurance company can seek reimbursement from the at-fault, third party driver. If the case is settled before going to court, then the amount to be paid back can be negotiated as well.
After any accident involving a serious injury, contact a highly rated New Jersey Auto Accident Lawyer such as Edith Pearce. Unlike the huge firms with dozens of attorneys and many different attorneys handling different aspects of your case, Edith Pearce is personally involved in every case that we handle. She genuinely cares about her clients and you will not be treated like just another case or file.