Workers’ Compensation For Firefighters
Firefighters put their bodies and their lives on the line every day to keep the rest of society safe. Firefighting is, to put it mildly, a dangerous profession. In 2018, more than 58,000 firefighters were injured in the line of duty across the United States. Not all firefighting injuries happen in burning buildings: There were over 14,400 traffic crashes involving fire department emergency vehicles responding to or returning from incidents in 2018. Sixty-four firefighters died in the line of duty that year.
California law guarantees workers’ compensation coverage for firefighters who are injured on the job. If your employer or your insurance provider tries to refuse your claim or reduce your benefits below what you are rightfully owed, you have the power to fight back. We can help. If you are a firefighter hurt on the job in Orange County or the Inland Empire, a California workers’ compensation attorney at Invictus Law, P.C., can help you get the medical care and wage loss benefits you and your family deserve.
Who is a Covered Firefighter?
California workers’ compensation generally covers employees of a company or a government agency. All employers must carry workers’ compensation coverage. Any firefighter who is a paid employee of a fire department or other institution qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits.
Many firefighters, however, are volunteers. People who volunteer at public agencies are typically not considered employees. Thankfully, California law specifically extends workers’ compensation protection to volunteer firefighters, police officers, and other emergency services volunteers under most circumstances. If you volunteered to fight fires, you should not be afraid that your injuries sustained on the job will go uncovered.
Special Protection for Firefighters
Firefighters are guaranteed the same workers’ compensation benefits as other workers injured on the job. Injured workers can seek coverage for medical costs, disability benefits (temporary or permanent, partial or total), rehabilitation for workers finding it difficult to return to work after an accident, and death benefits for the surviving family members of a person who dies on the job.
In addition, California law provides additional benefits specifically for firefighters. These special protections include:
- A firefighter unable to return to work after a workplace injury gets one year of their full salary instead of disability benefits (which only pay two-thirds of the salary)
- Firefighters are given the benefit of the doubt about conditions they develop being caused by the job. When a firefighter develops one of a particular set of illnesses, such as cancer, infectious disease, or heart trouble, California law presumes that the illness was caused by firefighting. Other workers do not get this automatic presumption.
More Than Just Burns and Fractures
Firefighters face more dangers on the job than just the obvious hazards. While thousands of firefighters suffer burns and breaks from blazing buildings and structural collapses, many also suffer from other job-related injuries. Workers’ compensation insurance covers any injury or illness sustained as a result of an employee performing their work-related duties.
Firefighters are covered for injuries sustained while in a burning building, to be sure. Still, workers’ comp also covers harm caused by other work activities such as training exercises, building maintenance, office work, traffic crashes while traveling to and from emergencies, and others. Moreover, workers’ compensation covers injuries and illnesses that develop over time as a result of the job, in addition to injuries sustained as a result of physical impact and blazing infernos. Firefighters can seek compensation for a variety of workplace maladies, including, but not limited to:
- Lung damage caused by smoke inhalation
- Heart conditions
- Muscle tears and strains
If you are a firefighter injured on the job in Orange County or the Inland Empire, call Invictus Law, P.C., at our offices in Orange or Ontario. Call 949-287-5711 or 888-9WORKLAW for a free consultation with a passionate and effective California workers’ compensation attorney. You’ll only pay a fee if we recover benefits for you.