Firefighters and other first responders risk their lives every day. They run into burning buildings and are the first to arrive on the scene of catastrophes like explosions and natural disasters. They respond to calls of help without regard to the time of day. They observe life and death struggles and go overboard to save a life. It is a perilous job.
The purpose of workers’ compensation law is so that employees can be compensated for their injuries without having to sue their employers. But is not as simple as it seems. Employers often try to find ways to argue the injury is not work-related, or not as serious as the worker complains.
Virtually everyone agrees that firefighting is a tough job. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, firefighters have one of the highest injury rates of all occupations. In addition to entering burning buildings, they risk roofs and walls collapsing on top of them, floors collapsing under them, and risk overexposure to flames and smoke. They are often first responders to car accidents and other catastrophic events.
If you are a firefighter who WAS injured while working, no matter what the nature of your injury, or no matter how minor you may think the injury is, you must do two things: 1) get medical treatment as soon as possible; and 2) report the injury to your supervisor.
Our attorneys at Terry Katz & Associates P.C. are ready to assist you with your reporting requirements and help you get the medical treatment you need. Contact us for a free case evaluation.
Firefighters injured in the line of duty should be eligible for compensation for their injuries. This includes compensation from workers’ compensation no matter how severe the injury. This includes compensation for temporary or partial disability, partial lost wages, and payment for medical bills.
New York has Guidelines that determine the compensation you will receive depending on the nature of the injury and medical care required. In addition to compensation for injured workers, workers’ compensation provides a death benefit to survivors of a firefighter who was killed in the line of duty or firefighters whose death was the result of injury or illness related to the line of duty.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2017, the most recent years for which there are statistics, nearly 60,000 firefighters were injured in the U.S. in the line of duty and 60 more died. More than 90 percent of firefighters are employed by a local government with the remainder working for either the state or federal government.
Firefighter injuries classified by type of duty are divided into five categories:
Another key finding by the NFPA was that “In addition to injuries, there were 7,345 documented exposures to infectious diseases,” like hepatitis, meningitis, HIV, and others.
There were 44,530 exposures to hazardous conditions. This includes exposure to asbestos, fumes, radioactive materials, toxic fumes, carcinogens, and other hazardous conditions.
A fact that is often overlooked is the number of firefighters who are injured in accidents involving a fire truck. In 2017, there were approximately 15,430 crashes involving fire department emergency vehicles responding or returning from an incident. Ten firefighters were killed in this type of accident and another 1,005 were injured.
Firefighters generally know what to expect when they enter the profession, but they may not realize the full impact of what it means and the toll it may take until they are actually on the job. Some may not realize it until years later.
The most common types of firefighter injuries actually fall into two categories: physical and mental.
Workers’ compensation is not limited to professional firefighters. All New York volunteer firefighters who are injured in the line of duty are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In the line of duty injuries for volunteer firefighters include a number of itemized activities that trigger a response by the volunteer’s fire company. This includes injuries that occur while traveling to and from these incidents.
Volunteer firefighters are also covered when they are injured while performing some duties at the firehouse or authorized inspection duties. They are also covered if they are injured while training or attending conferences or conventions they have been authorized to attend.
New York has an exhaustive list of activities considered to be in the line of duty of volunteer firefighters. It also has a list of activities that are not considered to be in the line of duty, which if volunteer firefighters are injured while participating in those activities, will not be covered by workers’ compensation.
If you are a volunteer firefighter who was injured in what you think was the line of duty, contact us at the Terry Katz & Associates, P.C., Attorney at Law for a free case consultation.
Located in Long Island, New York, our law firm of Terry Katz & Associations, P.C., Attorneys at Law, represents plaintiffs in workers’ compensation claims throughout the state. It is often a difficult system to navigate. One error may make a difference in whether you get benefits, or how much compensation you will receive. We work with your employer and insurance carrier to be sure you receive all the compensation to which you are legally entitled.
Our injury lawyers help workers file a claim, appeal a denial, or understand more about the laws and regulations affecting their rights to compensation after a work injury. There may be situations where a personal injury lawsuit against a third-party may be warranted. We will pursue that for you if we determine that is warranted. There are time limits established that must be met, contact us online or call us as soon as you can after your injury at 888-488-7459.