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Do First Responders Get Workers’ Compensation?


Date: January 25, 2016

First responders are all entitled to workers’ compensation just like the rest of the people employed in California. However, when it comes to first responders, the situation is somewhat complicated by the line of work they are in.

In a lot of cases, workers’ compensation that is given to first responders is less than adequate to the injuries they sustain, or are even denied despite the good work they do for their communities. In cases like that, the best option is hiring an Fresno workers’ compensation attorney in order to achieve your rights.

What Are First Responders?

The term ‘first responders’ is a relatively new term, but it encompasses the majority of emergency services like the police, paramedics, and firefighters. All of these people need to be trained in basic medical and emergency skills, ranging from car accidents to shootings to terrorist attacks.

As you may imagine, this line of work puts the first responders in the harm’s way more than any other profession. It is, therefore, hugely important that the first responders are entitled to workers’ compensation.

Types of Injuries Affecting First Responders

Depending on the area of expertise, first responders are prone to a wide array of injuries. The most common type, however, is broken bones and sprains. These physical injuries may come as a result of falls, assaults, or traffic accidents. Firefighters are at a high risk of burns, directly resulting from their line of work.

Aside from these apparent injuries, first responders can also suffer numerous internal injuries like organ damage, internal bleeding and brain damage, which are less immediately apparent, but just as dangerous, if not more.

Cumulative Injuries

All of the previous injuries typically come as a result of a single acute event. However, there are different kinds of injuries. Cumulative injuries come as a result of repetitive activities that put a strain on the body. Constantly carrying heavy equipment of a firefighter can result in back or shoulder pain, whereas police officers may face hand and wrist injuries from the recoil of the weapon when discharging.

Psychological Issues

Often disregarded or forgotten, mental health issues are also covered by workers’ compensation insurance. First responders tend to see some really disturbing and mentally scarring things. Even though they are trained to face these situations as professionally and calmly as possible, over time it can really cause some problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

PTSD doesn’t necessarily be the result of a cumulative process. It can be triggered by a single traumatic event, like getting shot or witnessing a major terrorist attack or natural disaster.

Legal Options

If you are a first responder who has been injured at work, the first option you should consider is a workers’ compensation claim. In most cases, it covers both your lost wages and your medical bills. Consult a workers’ compensation lawyer in order to be sure that you are getting the best possible deal. All cases are different, so you may be entitled to more than what has been offered to you.

If you feel like the injury was the result of improper training or the lack of protective gear, you can also file an additional lawsuit pursuing this avenue if you and your attorney determine that there is sufficient evidence that was the case.

Finally, if there was a third party involved in the accident, you can file a third-party lawsuit as a separate case to the workers’ compensation one. These lawsuits are usually filed against drivers in traffic accident cases or equipment manufacturers in cases where the equipment failed.

First responders do a great public service and it is important that they are treated well when they are injured in the line of work.

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About the Author

Attorney James A. Abate practices Criminal Defense, DWI Defense, Business Litigation, Real Estate & Personal injury cases in Union County, New Jersey.