Chapter 16: Maryland Workers’ Compensation for Firefighters and EMTs
Firefighters and EMTs are also afforded certain benefits under Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation Act. The state recognizes that these public safety employees also risk their lives for the public good and face hazards and threats that are not inherent in other occupations.
Like police officers, firefighters and EMTs receive higher awards for permanent disabilities from job-related injuries because their benefits are calculated on a higher tier than a civilian worker who suffers the same disability. In addition, some illnesses and diseases are presumed to be occupational illnesses because of the nature of the job. As with police officers, the presumption of occupational illness is not a guarantee of workers’ comp benefits, but it can make it easier for firefighters and EMTs to receive benefits if they are diagnosed with certain medical conditions or diseases.
Presumed Occupational Illnesses and Diseases
Several illnesses and diseases are presumed to be occupational illnesses if the worker is a firefighter or an EMT.
Certain cancers are presumed to be an occupational disease if the firefighter or EMT is diagnosed with one of the covered cancers, has at least 10 years of service on the job, and the cancer prevents the person from performing his or her duties. Cancers that are presumed occupational diseases for firefighters and EMTs are:
- Brain Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Testicular Cancer
- Throat Cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Multiple Myeloma
- Rectal Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
Firefighters and EMTs diagnosed with high blood pressure or heart disease may also be entitled to the presumption of an occupational illness. However, the individual must prove that the condition impairs the individual’s ability to perform his or her job duties to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ Compensation for Hearing Loss Claims
A diagnosis of hearing loss of tinnitus for EMTs and firefighters is not a presumed occupational illness. However, studies have indicated that noise-related hearing loss is a common problem for firefighters and EMTs. First responders are subjected to extremely loud sirens daily. In addition, the equipment used by firefighters can be extremely loud. Even though a first responder might use ear protection to reduce the risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, it may not prevent loss of hearing.
Maryland’s workers’ compensation benefits cover hearing loss related to working conditions. A firefighter or EMT would need to prove several elements to receive workers’ comp benefits for hearing loss, such as:
- The severity of the hearing loss;
- The damages caused by the hearing loss; and,
- On-the-job conditions caused the hearing loss.
The Pinder Plotkin Legal Team Can Help!
Our Maryland workers’ compensation lawyers work with first responders who have been injured on the job or developed an occupational illness or disease to help them receive the workers’ comp benefits they are entitled to receive by law. We can help you file your claim, appeal a denial, or seek additional benefits you may be entitled to receive as a public safety employee.
For a free consultation with a Maryland workers’ compensation lawyer, call our office at 410-525-5337.