First responders put their own safety at risk to help others. Over the course of their career, firefighters are vulnerable to such things as cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease. This is why our Clearwater workers comp attorneys fight to make sure they get all the benefits they have coming to them.
Firefighters Put Their Lives On the Line Every Day
When a firefighter leaves the house for work, they know that there’s a chance they won’t make it home. This is not something anybody, including our Clearwater workers compensation lawyers, want to think about let alone talk about.
At the same time, when it comes to workers compensation, it’s important that you know the law. You also want to retain a Clearwater workers comp attorney who not only knows the law, but who also has the courage to go to bat for you.
What Kind of Dangers Do Firefighters Face On the Job?
There are some obvious risks associated with being a firefighter. Obviously, every time a firefighter goes out on a call, there’s the chance that they could suffer burn injuries, breathing issues, or a fall.
However, there are other possible injuries a firefighter can suffer. Over the course of their career, there’s an increased possibility that they could contract any or all of the following conditions:
- Lung cancer
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Other forms of cancer
Thankfully, over the last ten years or so, the State of Florida has passed numerous pieces of legislation designed to protect firefighters and other first responders.
Your Clearwater Workers Compensation Lawyer Still Has to Prove That You Qualify for Benefits
Aside from the additional benefits you may be entitled to, there’s also the matter of qualifying for generic workers comp benefits. Your Clearwater workers comp attorney must prove that you meet the basic requirements for workers compensation.
These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Your injuries took place on company time
- For a firefighter, it’s important that you were injured during the normal course of your employment
- You must report your injuries within thirty (30) days of its appearance
- You cannot be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of your injury
Of course, there are other requirements if you plan to take advantage of the separate benefits available to first responders. We’ll discuss these in detail below.
If Your Claim is Approved, What Benefits Will You Receive?
Once your workers compensation claim is approved, you’ll be entitled to two main types of benefits. Obviously, your medical care will be covered. Any medical treatment related to your workplace injuries and illnesses will be taken care of.
You’ll also be entitled to weekly replacement wages. These are determined by taking your average weekly wages and multiplying them by 2/3.
In addition to these benefits, you may qualify for other services such as job search assistance, training, and other career related services.
Your Clearwater Workers Comp Attorney Can Also Fight for Additional Benefits
Because first responders are vulnerable to unique injuries and illnesses, the government offers them special benefits. Essentially, if a firefighter contracts certain illnesses or diseases, they will be entitled to medical care as well as other financial benefits.
The State of Florida has passed three critical pieces of legislation over the years to protect firefighters and other first responders.
House Bill 453 Protects Firefighters from High Blood Pressure, TB, and Heart Disease
In July of 2022, House Bill 453 went into effect in Florida. This bill requires public employers to keep medical records of all employees even after they leave employment. Specifically, fire houses would be required to maintain medical examination records for all firefighters for five years after they leave.
The reason this is important is that other legislation offers medical coverage and other ancillary benefits if they are diagnosed with the following three illnesses:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Since it can take years for these illnesses to present themselves, the State felt it was important to require employers to keep these records. If you’re diagnosed with any of these diseases after you leave your job, there’s a good chance your medical care will be taken care of.
Florida Statute §112.1816 Protects Firefighters Who Are Diagnosed with Cancer
Another statute that protects firefighters is Florida Statute §112.1816. This law states that firefighters who develop certain types of cancer will be covered.
If your Clearwater workers’ compensation lawyer can prove that you’ve been diagnosed with one of these cancers, you’ll automatically be presumed to qualify for benefits.
The reason this is important is that, normally, an employee must prove by clear and convincing evidence that their illness was directly caused by their job.
Your Clearwater Workers Compensation Lawyer Can Seek Protection Under the “Heart and Lung Bill”
One final piece of legislation worth discussing here is the “Heart and Lung Bill.” Under Florida Statute §112.1815, any firefighter who suffers TB, heart disease, or high blood pressure will automatically qualify for benefits.
In these cases, your employer will have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that you had the condition before you started your job.
In order to qualify for these benefits, your Clearwater workers comp attorney must demonstrate that you took a pre-employment medical examination that showed you did not have any of the covered illnesses or medical conditions.
It’s in Your Best Interest to Speak with an Experienced Clearwater Workers Comp Attorney
Of all the professions, firefighting poses some of the most extraordinary risks of all. Every time a firefighter leaves the house, they know it could be for the last time. That’s why our workers’ compensation lawyers in Clearwater, Florida work so hard to get our clients the benefits they deserve.
Firefighters are entitled to significant benefits beyond what is normally offered under workers compensation. The best way to know for sure if you qualify for these additional benefits is to talk to a seasoned workers comp attorney.
We suggest you contact our office at (954) 324-COMP and speak with one of our representatives. They can help you schedule your free, initial consultation.