Firefighters are among those employees who can receive special benefits in Maryland. Often, civilian workers find it difficult to prove that their illnesses are work-related. If they can’t make a strong case, they can’t access workers’ compensation benefits. This challenge occurs because it is often difficult to show that a specific factor led to their illness. For example, if a worker develops cancer, it could be because of several factors. These include genetics, diet and lifestyle and the environmental conditions around the home. Attributing it solely to their work environment would be challenging in many instances.
Firefighters in Maryland don’t typically have these challenges. It’s easier for them to get workers’ compensation benefits for specific illnesses. It’s presumed that diseases like hypertension and certain cancers are job-related if the worker previously had a clean bill of health. That’s because studies have shown that there’s a strong correlation between being a firefighter and developing specific conditions. Firefighters are regularly exposed to a variety of high pressure situations and toxic substances during the course of their work. Maryland law, therefore, allows them to get workers’ compensation benefits when they develop certain conditions.
As with any other insurance claim, it’s not guaranteed that a firefighter will get compensation. Their employer can challenge the presumption that their condition is work-related. It is, therefore, best for ill firefighters to seek advice from a Maryland workers’ compensation lawyer. This will help to improve their chances of getting the compensation they deserve.
Who’s Considered a Firefighter Under the Law
Under Maryland’s laws, lung disease, hypertension, and lung disease are assumed to have occurred on the job if the worker is:
- A paid firefighter
- A paid firefighting instructor
- A paid rescue squad member
- A paid advanced life support unit member
- A member of the State Fire Marshal’s office employed by the state, airport authority, county, fire control district or municipality
Some volunteer employees are also covered. They must also become sick in the line of duty after being in good health before they took up their post. This category of workers includes:
- Volunteer firefighters
- Volunteer firefighting instructors;
- Volunteer rescue squad members
- Volunteer advanced life support unit members who are covered employees
Cancers Presumed to Have Occurred in the Line of Duty
There are specific cancers that are linked to firefighting. These include:
- Throat cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Breast cancer caused by contact with a toxic substance in the line of duty
Things to Know About Accessing Workers’ Compensation Benefits as Firefighters
Firefighters are entitled to all the benefits other workers can access under the workers’ compensation system. However, they also get some enhanced benefits. Firefighters who suffer a partial disability can receive more compensation than a civilian with the same injury would. In some cases, they get twice the amount the average worker would receive.
Meanwhile, firefighters get two-thirds of their average weekly wage while they are unable to work, just like other covered employees. However, they may be eligible for full compensation. They can apply for sick leave or administrative leave rather than temporary total disability.
Furthermore, a firefighter may still be covered even if their illness develops during retirement. The workers’ comp benefits may be stacked on top of retirement benefits up to a cap. Alternatively, they may only receive one benefit.
Despite the above, not every firefighter who develops a covered condition will get workers’ compensation benefits. Whether volunteer or paid, the employee must have performed ten years of service. They must have passed an initial physical exam and they must no longer be able to perform their duties. This means the diagnosis must result in partial or total disability.
While some workers’ comp claims are straightforward, others are more complicated. If you have cancer or lung disease, you won’t want to be dealing with red tape. It’s best to let an attorney handle your case while you focus on managing your condition.
Call Pinder Plotkin LLC to Discuss Your Workers’ Compensation Case
If you’re a Maryland firefighter who has suffered injuries or illness on the job, our team can help. Dealing with the workers’ compensation system can be difficult when you’re doing it all alone. Our workers’ comp attorneys in Maryland will assess your case and provide you with sound legal advice. If you hire us, we’ll do everything we can to ensure you get the benefits you deserve. After putting your life on the line to keep your community safe, you shouldn’t have to struggle to make ends meet. Contact Pinder Plotkin LLC today to schedule a consultation.