Aggressive Representation for Injured Firefighters Across Pennsylvania
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), firefighters have one of the highest rates of injury and illness of all occupations. As of 2016, there were approximately 327,300 firefighters in the U.S., excluding volunteer firefighters. Many of these workers have long and physically-demanding workdays where they face a variety of on-the-job hazards, including exposure to flames and smoke, collapsing buildings and traffic accidents. The Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. proudly represent Pennsylvania firefighters who were injured in the line of duty.
Common Firefighter Injuries
Firefighters risk their safety to protect others and therefore they may suffer work-related injuries and illnesses such as injuries from falls off ladders and occupational illnesses associated with smoke inhalation. Some other common firefighter injuries and illnesses include:
- Back injuries
- Broken bones
- Fatal injuries
- Head injuries including traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Heart attacks
- Injuries from explosions
- Injuries from falls
- Knee injuries
Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act
Under the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act, firefighters and law enforcement officers may collect compensation for their full salary, medical and hospital expenses if they were injured, suffered a heart attack, or contracted an illness in the performance of their duties. To qualify for compensation, the injuries must be temporary, the worker must be expected to return to work and the injuries must have been incurred during the worker’s performance of his or her job duties.
Firefighters’ Cancer Presumption Act
Firefighters are exposed to smoke and other carcinogens on a regular basis. However, the health effects of such exposure may take years to surface. This type of claim can be difficult to prove since diseases like cancer can be attributed to a number of causes. To address this problem, the Firefighters’ Cancer Presumption Act, passed in 2011, established a presumption for firefighters and volunteer firefighters regarding cancer as a work-related illness. Under the Act, all types of cancer are considered work-related provided that the worker:
- Served as a firefighter for at least four years
- Can prove direct exposure to a Group 1 carcinogen
- Had a physical exam prior to employment as a firefighter or prior to filing his or her workers’ compensation claim showing that he or she did not have cancer
The presumption may be rebutted if the employer or their insurance company can show that the claimant’s cancer was not caused by firefighting. For example, workers who are heavy smokers may have a hard time succeeding in their claims. Many insurers stopped providing coverage for firefighters once the Firefighters’ Cancer Presumption Act went into effect, making it difficult for workers to get necessary medical treatment. The Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. fight to protect the rights of injured firefighters and help them get the benefits they need.
There are more forms of presumptive coverage for firefighters under Pennsylvania law, including those who developed heart and lung diseases due to overexertion or heat and smoke exposure. Other presumptive diseases are Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS since firefighters are often the first responders on the scene of accidents and therefore have a high risk of contracting infectious, bloodborne diseases.
Under the Firefighters’ Cancer Presumption Act, firefighters must file their claims within 300 weeks of their last occupational exposure to qualify for the presumption. All other claims must be filed within 600 weeks.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Injured Firefighters
If you were injured on the job or are suffering from a work-related illness, contact an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. We proudly represent firefighters and their families in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form.