Firefighters Workplace Injury Legal Help
First responders to an injury or crime scene often face safety hazards and risk emotional trauma not faced by workers in other fields. There are numerous court cases detailing the circumstances when a first responder may be entitled to additional medical or psychological treatment or benefits as a result of unique trauma experienced on the job.
As a rule, workers’ compensation covers only employees. But North Carolina law makes an exception for certain first responders:
- volunteer firefighters
- members of organized rescue squads
- authorized pickup firefighters
- members of an auxiliary police department
- senior members of the State Civil Air Patrol.
These volunteer first responders may collect benefits when they are injured or killed performing their duties. Their benefits are calculated as a percentage of the pay they were receiving from their primary employment at the time of injury, subject to an upper limit of sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66 2/3%) of the maximum weekly benefit allowed under workers’ compensation.
One issue facing first responders in North Carolina is funding. Because of budget cuts, the fund established specifically to pay volunteer claims has been financially unstable.
Another difficult issue for first responders in North Carolina is whether they can be compensated for illnesses – respiratory disease, coronary conditions, certain cancers – associated with prolonged exposure to smoke and hazardous materials. Because workers’ compensation does not cover “ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is equally exposed,” claims for these illnesses are frequently denied.
If you are a first responder with a work-associated injury or illness, you likely need legal help. Our experienced first responder workers compensation attorneys can advise you of your rights. Contact us for a workers compensation claim consultation.