Firefighters have one of the most dangerous and most physically demanding jobs in the United States. They are required to stay in peak physical condition and be ready to respond to emergencies as soon as they arrive. Firefighters train consistently to ensure the shortest possible response times when their communities need them to handle fires, and this job entails a very high risk of serious injury.
When you are injured on the job, the state’s workers’ compensation laws are likely to be a cornerstone of your recovery. Almost every employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance, and almost every worker is covered by this insurance. Whenever someone suffers an injury at work, their employer’s workers’ compensation benefits can help them recover with medical expense coverage and income replacement benefits for the time they cannot work following their injury.
The Mitchell Law Corporation can represent you in your recovery following an injury at work. Our firm has years of professional experience guiding our clients through the workers’ compensation system, helping them recover the benefits they need to recoup as fully as possible. If you or a loved one suffered an injury while working as a firefighter, our firm can guide you through the complex series of legal proceedings you are likely to face in the aftermath of your injury.
When most people think of the injuries a firefighter might suffer on the job, the most obvious risk they can imagine is likely to be severe burns. While it’s true that many of the work-related injuries reported among firefighters are burns, it’s possible for many other injuries to happen in this line of work. A few of the most commonly reported firefighter injuries include:
This is not an exhaustive list of all the possible injuries a firefighter might suffer. The only requirement for an injured worker in Southern California to file a workers’ compensation claim is that their injury must have occurred through their performance of their work-related duties. It is also possible to file a claim for workers’ compensation for an injury or illness that gradually develops over time because of work environment and work-related stress.
Firefighting is not only one of the most dangerous jobs in America due to the very high risk of acute traumatic injury while fighting a fire but also the high rate of severe medical conditions that can directly result from this type of work. Presumptive injuries are those that can be credibly presumed to arise directly from the victim’s work. For firefighters, presumptive injuries that can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits include:
Success with a workers’ compensation claim requires clear proof that an injury or illness arose directly from the claimant’s work and not any other cause. An experienced Southern California firefighter work injury attorney is the ideal resource to consult if you have developed an illness or suffered an injury from fighting fires and need to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits is similar to filing most other types of insurance claims, but the process unfolds through your employer. Once an injury happens while working, you should report the incident to your supervisor immediately. Most firefighting injuries are obvious, and the employer becomes aware of the incident naturally through the course of addressing the victim’s injury and arranging medical care in the immediate aftermath.
Your employer is legally required to give you the claim forms you need to submit to their insurance company, and they may not interfere with the claim filing process in any way. If you believe your employer has not handled your work injury claim appropriately, it is vital to consult a firefighter work injury attorney as soon as possible. They can determine the most viable steps to take to address the situation.
Workers’ compensation insurance shields employers from liability for their injured workers’ damages while providing those injured workers with financial benefits that assist in their recoveries. As part of your workers’ compensation claim filing process, you will need to undergo a medical evaluation to determine your level of disability. You can see any doctor in an emergency situation, but you will need to see a physician approved by your employer’s insurance carrier for a formal disability rating.
The insurance carrier will review the medical report from the physician who evaluated your injuries and your other claim forms in their review process. If your claim is approved, you will receive a determination of benefits that explains the extent of financial compensation the insurance carrier will provide for your injury. If your claim is denied for some reason, a Southern California firefighter work injury attorney can help address the situation effectively.
An injured worker can typically expect two types of compensation from a successful workers’ compensation claim. First is medical expense coverage. The insurance carrier will pay for all the injured claimant’s medical expenses related to their injury. This can include the cost of any rehabilitative care or other ongoing treatments required for them to reach maximum medical improvement from the injury.
The claimant will also receive a determination of disability benefits intended to offset their inability to work during recovery. These benefits are typically paid at a rate of two-thirds of the claimant’s average weekly wage each week until they reach maximum recovery from their injury. For example, if the claimant usually earns about $1,500 per week, they can reasonably expect about $1,000 per week in disability benefits. These benefits are usually limited to 104 weeks but may be extended if the claimant has been severely injured.
If the claimant is still able to work after their injury but can only perform light duty, they may be unable to earn as much as they did prior to their injury. In this situation, they may qualify for partial disability benefits that offset the difference in their earning power. When you are awarded partial disability benefits, you will need to report your earnings to the insurance company to continue receiving payments. Failure to meet your reporting requirements could result in early termination of benefits or even accusations of workers’ compensation fraud.
The workers’ compensation laws of the state typically prevent an injured employee from filing a civil suit against their employer in response to a work-related injury. However, there are exceptions to this rule, the first of which would be an employer lacking required workers’ compensation coverage. If your employer does not have the insurance required by state law, they face liability for your damages as well as penalties issued by the state.
Alternatively, it is possible for an injured worker to have grounds to file a third-party personal injury claim. If anyone outside of their workplace directly caused their work-related injury, they can file their claim for workers’ compensation benefits and then seek additional compensation from the at-fault third party with a personal injury suit.
Firefighters have one of the most dangerous and demanding jobs and have the right to expect fair compensation if they are hurt while risking their lives for the sake of others. If you have been injured in the line of duty as a firefighter or other first responder in Southern California, the team at the Mitchell Law Corporation can assist you through your recovery. Contact our team today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about the legal services we can offer in your workers’ compensation case.