New York City Firefighter Workers' Compensation Lawyers
New York's first responders can suffer serious on the job injuries, both physical and mental. If you were injured as a Firefighter in the line of duty, the workers' compensation lawyers at Terry Katz & Associates can help you understand your rights, file a workers' comp claim, or appeal a denial. Call 888-488-7459 to speak with an attorney today.
Injured In The Line Of Duty? Our Firefighter Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Can Help
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.
What Firefighters Should Do After a Work-Related Injury
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.
- Get medical treatment. It is important that your treating healthcare provider includes all relevant details in the report and accurately documents your injury. Unfortunately, medical personnel makes errors. They may erroneously say the injury was to the wrong body part. For example, the report might say the left arm was injured when it was the right one. Check the medical report to be sure all your aches and pains have been documented and details about your injury are included.
- Report the injury to your supervisor. Under New York law, you must report the injury in writing to your supervisor within 30 days of your injury. You then must file your claim with the workers’ compensation board within two years of the time you knew or should have known, your injuries are work-related. If you miss either deadline, you lose your opportunity to pursue compensation for your injury no matter how severely you may be injured.
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.
Compensation For Firefighters Injured In The Line Of Duty
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.
Facts About First Responders Injured In 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:
- Responding or returning from an incident. This accounted for approximately 4,555 injuries.
- Fire ground injuries, which includes everything that happens from the time the firefighters arrive on a scene until they leave. This causes more injuries than any other category and injured nearly 25,000 fighters in the U.S. in 2017. The leading cause of fire ground injuries is related to overexertion or strain. Other major causes were falls, jumps, or slips and exposure to fire products.
- Non-fire emergency response accounted for 12,240 injuries.
- Training caused 8,380 injuries.
- Other on-the-job duties, such as inspection or maintenance duties injured 9,165 firefighters.
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.
Common Types of Firefighter & First Responder Injuries
The most common types of firefighter injuries actually fall into two categories: physical and mental.
- Physical damage. This includes injuries include, including strains, sprains, muscular pain, cuts, abrasions, bruises, smoke inhalation, burns, broken bones, and crushing injuries in general. They may also suffer from heat exhaustion, asthma, coughing, lung disease, and heart disease. Some injuries appear immediately after the harm, others fester and appear years later, like lung and heart disease and some types of cancer. They also may suffer from being exposed to a hazardous material or toxic substances in general. Back and neck injuries are common. Bones are frequently broken. Heart disease is a leading cause of death for firefighters. Survivors need to understand workers’ compensation death benefits and consult with a workers’ compensation attorney who can work with them to be sure they receive all the compensation to which they are legally entitled.
- Mental anguish. Firefighters may be exposed to harrowing traumatic scenes, perhaps involving mass casualties, that cause them mental anguish for weeks, months, and even years. They may be stressed trying to attend to the needs of many people and prioritizing their own actions. They suffer knowing a house they tried to save burned to the ground. Animals scamper away and the firefighter has to deal with the loss along with the pet’s family members.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When firefighters witness a traumatic incident that permanently imprints on their brain, they may suffer from flashbacks that repeat the horrifying images in their brains. This is similar to what those in combat zones experience after witnessing horrific war zone conflicts. It results in depression, difficulty in sleeping, anxiety, and often an inability to keep working as a firefighter.
Workers’ Compensation For Volunteer Firefighters
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.
We Fight for Injured Firefighters And First Responders Across New York
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.