Firefighters regularly put their own lives on the line to save people in dangerous situations. The very nature of their jobs makes an injury or occupational disease a real possibility. As such, workers’ compensation for firefighters may be handled in a slightly different way than workers’ comp for other employees.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
According to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (the “Commission”), workers’ compensation is:
“…a no-fault system of benefits paid by employers to workers who experience work-related injuries or diseases.”
An on-the-job injury might be caused by accident or by exposure to substances that cause occupational diseases or other injuries. Workers typically receive benefits paid by the employer’s insurance company. However, when disputes arise, or a claim is rejected, workers may ask the Commission to step in.
Special situations may apply to certain classes of workers.
What Kind of Injuries Affect Firefighters?
Fighting fires is dangerous, so firefighters may face hazards that the average worker does not. Accidents, moving heavy equipment, and falling debris from burning buildings might cause obvious injuries. However, firefighters also face some more subtle dangers.
Firefighters are prone to conditions caused by their work, including:
- Lung and respiratory disease;
- Heart or vascular disease,
- Hearing loss,
- Tuberculosis, and
- Certain types of cancer.
Through the very nature of their work, firefighters may be exposed to dangerous bloodborne pathogens and airborne toxins.
Is There Anything Special About Workers’ Compensation for Firefighters?
Workers’ compensation benefits typically are provided to firefighters who suffer work-related injuries or develop job-related diseases. In fact, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (the “Act”) states that conditions or health impairments suffered by a firefighter:
“…shall be rebuttably presumed to arise out of and in the course of the employee’s firefighting … employment and, further, shall be rebuttably presumed to be causally connected to the hazards or exposures of the employment.”
This section of the Act applies to firefighters employed in the public sector for five years or more. Essentially, certain conditions are automatically assumed to have been caused by the firefighter’s job duties and therefore are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Are you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits?
Workers’ compensation benefits can be confusing, so talk to an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney to learn more about your options.
Osvaldo Rodriguez has more than 20 years’ experience helping people like you. Schedule a free initial consultation or ask a question by calling us at 708-716-3441 or by completing the Contact form on our website.
Mr. Rodriguez is fluent in both Spanish and English.
We represent clients throughout the state of Illinois, including Chicago, Addison, Bellwood, Bensenville, Berwyn, Chicago, Cicero, Elmwood Park, Franklin Park, Maywood, Melrose Park, Northlake, and all of Cook County, Lake County, Kane County, Dupage County and Will County.