Public safety employees, including firefighters, have dangerous jobs. They protect the citizens of Maryland from a variety of threats and hazards. In some cases, these brave men and women are hurt while protecting the public. Firefighters are eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits if they are injured on the job. In some cases, firefighters may receive enhanced benefits because of laws enacted to protect the men and women who serve the public.
If you are a firefighter or you have a family member that is a firefighter, contact the Pinder Plotkin legal team for a free consultation to discuss workers’ comp benefits for firefighters in Maryland.
What Types of Compensation Can Firefighters Receive for On-The-Job Injuries?
If a firefighter is injured on the job, he or she may receive a variety of benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation system. Some of the benefits that a firefighter might receive for an injury at work include:
- Medical Care
- Compensation for Lost Wages
- Disability Compensation
- Rehabilitation Costs
As with other workers’ comp claims, a firefighter receives two-thirds of the average weekly wage as compensation while he or she is out of work. However, a firefighter might receive full compensation for lost wages if he or she applies for administrative leave or sick leave instead of temporary total disability (TDD) payments.
A legal member of the Pinder Plotkin team can investigate whether your department offers benefits that might compensate your lost wages in full instead of applying for TDD benefits.
Enhanced Worker’s Comp Benefits for Firefighters in Maryland
In addition to the workers’ compensation benefits that all workers are entitled to in Maryland, firefighters are entitled to enhanced benefits for some injuries. For example, if a firefighter suffers a partial disability, the amount of the benefit is calculated on a higher tier so that the firefighter receives more compensation than a civilian worker would receive for a similar injury. In many cases, the benefit is roughly double what a civilian would receive for the same injury.
In addition, the state recognizes that some illnesses are common for firefighters because of the nature of their jobs. Therefore, these illnesses and diseases are assumed to be caused by the job. It is the employer’s or the workers’ comp insurance carrier’s burden to prove otherwise.
For example, hypertension, and heart disease are presumed to have occurred on the job for employees working as a firefighter. Also, rescue squad members, firefighting instructors, employees of the Office of the State Fire Marshall, and some volunteer firefighters may also receive benefits under this provision.
In addition to heart disease, high blood pressure and certain cancers are also presumed to have occurred on the job after 10 years of service. Cancers that are typically presumed to have occurred in the line of duty for firefighters and others associated with firefighting include:
- Prostate cancer
- Throat cancer
- Brain Cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Multiple Myeloma
- Breast cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Testicular cancer
Firefighters who develop the above cancers after 10 years of service are presumed to have developed cancer because of the job. It is up to the employer or the workers’ comp insurance carrier to prove otherwise.
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 hearing loss.
Deadlines to File Claims for Cancer, Hypertension, or Heath Disease
If you are retired, you may still be entitled to file a claim for one of these conditions if you worked as a firefighter. In addition, some firefighters who were diagnosed with one of these conditions before joining the fire department may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits. Firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, or high blood pressure should take steps to protect their right to file a workers’ comp claim.
Consulting with a Maryland workers’ comp attorney for firefighters is a great first step in ensuring that you receive the benefits you deserve under Maryland’s Workers’ Comp Statute.
Does a Firefighter Need a Maryland Workers’ Comp Attorney to File a Claim?
Anyone who is injured on the job can file a workers’ comp claim without the assistance of an attorney. However, having enhanced workers’ comp benefits is not a guarantee of benefits. Many firefighters have problems receiving the benefits they deserve after becoming ill or being injured on the job.
The Pinder Plotkin legal team works with firefighters and their families to ensure they receive the workers’ comp benefits they deserve. We believe that the state has a duty to provide all benefits allowable by law to the dedicated firefighters throughout our state.
For additional information, check out this relevant blog post:
For a free consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney in Parkville, contact Pinder Plotkin LLC by calling 410-525-5337.