Common First Responder Workers’ Compensation Injuries

Law Office in Tampa, FL


    Common First Responder Workers’ Compensation Injuries

    Law Office in Tampa, FL


      Common First Responder Workers’ Compensation Injuries

      Law Office in Tampa, FL


      If you’ve been injured while working as a first responder, you’re likely feeling frustrated and upset. Having an injury can feel limiting when all you want to do is continue to help your community. We understand that you might hesitate to file a workers’ compensation claim because it means that you must step away from your work in order to recover. Our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for first responders will always encourage you to reach out as soon as you can to go over your legal options. We want you to be able to get the financial relief you need in order to begin your path to recovery. Please call us today to set up your free first consultation with us. We are happy to take your call and give you the answers you are looking for. Call us today!

        Outstanding Legal Knowledge

        Tonya is a true expert in the field of workers compensation, including cases involving cardiac and pulmonary claims of first responders. She is an excellent trial attorney and demonstrates both outstanding legal knowledge and ethical standards.

        Anonymous

        Flawless Representation

        Jason was there for me from the beginning, Kept me informed at all times of my cases status, worked tirelessly during mediations to ensure maximum benefits were obtained, and most of all treated me like family rather than a client!

        James

        Thank You So Much For Getting Me Here

        The last year and a half have been exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Right from the start, I stressed over leaving a career behind that I loved with nothing to show for it. I know my law enforcement career was over, but had no idea what I was deserving of. Despite my case being about as clear-cut as they come, I knew I needed help and guidance…that’s where you and your firm came in. Despite my lack of patience, you explained clearly what needed to happen and how to get there.  I am SO GLAD this is over, and I thank you so much for getting me here.

        Anonymous

        Excellent Workers Compensation Attorney

        Jason Fox has been the best attorney that I have ever had. He handled my very complicated case very professionally. He not only did an outstanding job when it came to the legal aspects of the case , but was very thoughtful on how it personally affected me and my family. He also attended city council meetings, doctors appointment, etc. even when it was not legally needed. He stood by my side every step of they way, and was willing to fight all the way to the Supreme Court. Most Lawyers would not have put the time or effort. This was not a big money making case for a lawyer but he was standing up to a system and a City that treated an injured worker very poorly. He is a smart and determined person who is willing to go the extra mile for what is right. I would 100% recommend him.

        Dawn
        7 Mistakes First Responders Make With a Workers' Compensation Claim

        7 Mistakes First Responders Make with a Workers’ Compensation Claim

        Download our FREE book and start learning what not to do after a work injury.

        Common First Responder Workers’ Compensation Injuries

         If you’ve been injured while working as a first responder, you’re likely feeling frustrated and upset. Having an injury can feel limiting when all you want to do is continue to help your community. We understand that you might hesitate to file a workers’ compensation claim because it means that you must step away from your work in order to recover. Our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for first responders will always encourage you to reach out as soon as you can to go over your legal options. We want you to be able to get the financial relief you need in order to begin your path to recovery. Please call us today to set up your free first consultation with us. We are happy to take your call and give you the answers you are looking for. Call us today!

        Types of First Responder Cases We Handle

         Primarily speaking, we handle first responders such as firefighters, police officers, and EMTs. The types of cases that we handle often involve typical workers’ compensation claims, such as broken bones or concussions from one acute incident with a minor to moderate injury. We also handle cases in which it is much more difficult to get workers’ compensation, such as stress-related illnesses including PTSD and hypertension or heart disease. We categorize these as “harder to prove” because drawing a correlation between these types of illnesses and your work as a first responder can be challenging when the insurance company is trying to reduce what they owe you or throw out your case altogether. It is an unfortunate part of workers’ compensation that, oftentimes, they don’t want to provide you the financial relief you need because it saves them money. We have specialized knowledge and expertise on tough to handle cases for first responders, specifically.

        Common First Responder Injuries

         Injuries that first responders sustain can vary. Minor injuries can include burns, lacerations, concussions and sprains. More severe injuries would be broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, third-degree burns, etc. Long-term injuries might include hypertension, lung disease from exposure to hazardous materials or chemicals, PTSD, heart disease and stress-related illnesses.

        Police officers tend to experience injuries through their interactions with the civilians that they apprehend. They might sustain injuries in violent events. This could include gunshot wounds.

        Injuries that are specific to firefighters, for example, would be exposure to hazardous materials that cause lung disease, due to their having to go into burning buildings and homes that are often filled with toxins and carcinogens in the air.

        EMTs, as well as the other first responders, are exposed to some of the more horrific scenes that most people who don’t work these jobs could never imagine seeing. Because of this first responders are prone to stress-related illnesses such as PTSD. Dealing with PTSD can be a lifelong struggle.

        Why You Shouldn’t Wait to File a Claim

         There are several obvious reasons why you shouldn’t wait to seek compensation. The first is your health. Filing a workers’ compensation claim means going to the doctors and hearing what they have to say about your recovery. Some recoveries can be quick and be around a month to heal while other recoveries can be a lifelong journey. Regardless, any time away from your job might sound like something you’re not willing to do. We understand that first responders are typically work-oriented people who care deeply about their career and helping their communities. Getting the treatment that you need is likely to involve you not working either temporarily or, in severe cases, permanently. We need you to understand that without your health you don’t have much to offer your community. You won’t be able to continue to provide your community with help if you cannot care for yourself and give yourself the best chance of recovery possible.

        Secondly, you should not delay filing a workers’ compensation claim because, after a certain period of time, you will not be allowed to receive compensation for your injuries, in some cases. If this happens and you have waited too long, then you might never get the financial relief you need to recover. Also, the insurance company will take a look at your medical records and determine the length of time between your injury or suspected injury and the first treatment you received. If there was a significant gap in time between these things, the insurance company will grow suspicious and either say that you were not hurt at work but at a different time or you aren’t suffering as badly as you say you are and don’t need the compensation you are asking for.

        Please get in contact with our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for first responders as soon as you can to set up a free, first consultation with us and learn more about what you would be legally entitled to in your case.

         The Four Step Test to Determine the Strength of Your Case

         Because some cases are much harder to prove, we have this four-step process to test the strength of a potential claim for you. Here’s how this works:

        1. First, we aim to show the insurance company that your job is indeed stressful. If you have incidents that you’re willing to share or a series of events that would have led to extreme stress, we can document that to show to the insurance company. For illnesses that are stress-related, it is important to have these details because it gives us a starting point for building a strong case.
        2. Next we will be looking for a pre-employment physical to show that before you took your job as a first responder (either as an EMT, police officer or firefighter), you were without the illness for which you are now filing your workers’ compensation claim. This is important because it shows that you were not suffering prior to your employment.
        3. Next, we look to see if you have a physical recently that shows that you have the diagnosis. If you don’t have one yet, you can do that as soon as possible. When we have two physicals that we can compare side by side, we can draw a correlation between your illness and your involvement as a first responder. Being able to show that you didn’t have the illness before you started working there and now you do gives us a stronger case to demonstrate that it is, indeed, likely that the stress of your job caused you to suffer this illness.
        4. Lastly, we put together all of the reasons why your life has been impacted by this diagnosis. We want to display to the insurance company how you have been affected and will continue to be affected by this diagnosis. This is essentially setting us up to show what your damages are in the case and what you should be legally entitled to through your workers’ compensation claim.

        When we can establish these four steps, it typically means that we have a very strong foundation for your case. It also puts us in the offensive position, which gives us the advantage over the insurance company because now they have to disprove this theory that we have put out. It makes it harder for them to throw away your claim or refuse to give you the compensation that you deserve.

        Call Our Florida Workers Compensation Lawyers for First Responders Today

        If you have been injured or suffer from an illness due to your job as a first responder, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for first responders as soon as you possibly can. We want to help you get the financial relief that you need to get on the path to recovery as soon as you can. We understand that you might be hesitating for various reasons but please sit down with us for a free consultation to learn about the benefits of filing your claim. We want you to be healthy and taken care of. We will make this legal process as easy as possible for you so that you can focus on yourself and your family, as well as your recovery. Please call us today to set up your free, first consultation.

        Frequently Asked Common First Responder Workers’ Compensation Injury Questions

        Work-Related Injury Conditions for First Responders

        What conditions are presumed to be work-related for first responders in Florida?

        We are often asked, with regard to fault in workers’ comp, whether you can still make a claim. The fault in workers’ comp should not matter. There are extenuating circumstances, but most of the time fault is not taken into account and workers’ compensation benefits are available regardless of whether you may be at fault or not, that includes, in a car accident for example, where you can be found at-fault for the car accident but still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

        We often have multiple party types of accidents as well, where there could be a slip and fall, or a trip, or, again, like a motor vehicle accident, so whether you caused the accident, were a victim, or no one was at fault, you may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. Please contact us at Oliver and Fox. We’d be very happy to discuss this with you.

        What is an occupational disease as it relates to first responders?

        We were recently contacted by a personal injury attorney who was referring a physical injury for a Florida first responder, and he asked us a very good question as to what other types of injuries may be available for Florida first responders. We explained that there could be repetitive physical injuries, exposure types of claims. There’s presumption claims such as hypertension and heart disease. There’s mental health claims, PTSD, and cancer for firefighters.

        If you have any of these types of claims, please call us at Oliver and Fox for a free consultation.

        Do I need to report my injury to my captain as a first responder?

        We had a client who recently met with us, and he had a heart attack while he was not on duty. Is it important in Florida to file a first report of injury regarding your injury? Whether you have a physical injury, such as a broken arm or broken leg, that occurs on duty as a first responder, or whether you have injuries such as a heart attack, hypertension, PTSD or similar injuries that occur either on or off duty, it is important and mandatory to file that first report of injury to notify the employer of your injury. At Oliver and Fox, We can help file your first report of injury and make sure that your benefits are provided pursuant to your report of your injury.

        Can my first responder workers’ comp claim be denied if I do not report the injury in time?

        We had a client who injured his back in a fire call. He thought that it was not a big deal and kind of shrugged it off. In his follow-up, however, he realized he had more significant injuries. Unfortunately, he did not initially report his injury or the tweak to his back and, as result of not reporting the tweak, the carrier denied his claim for untimely notice. It is important in Florida when you receive an injury or incur an injury that you timely report that to you supervisor contemporaneous with the event.

        If you’ve suffered an injury, you’ve reported that to your supervisor, and no action has been taken, we can help you. If you would like to contact our office, we can make sure that benefits are provided. If you fail to timely report the injury and are seeking treatment, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

        Covered Injuries & Illnesses for First Responders

        What injuries and illnesses are covered for first responders in Florida?

        We were talking to an attorney the other day that inquired as to what would constitute a workers’ compensation case, claim, or injury. There are many types of cases, many types of claims, especially for first responders. You can have just a regular physical injury; you can have a repetitive trauma injury, meaning knees, think carpal tunnel syndrome, and it can occur in your back or neck as well; you can also have heart/lung, high blood pressure, hypertension, heart disease. All of those are covered under special first responder statutes, the Heart/Lung Bill. There’s also cancer for firefighters and mental health, PTSD, for all first responders.

        These benefits are available, and they do constitute workers’ compensation benefits. You may be entitled to benefits and just not be aware of it. Please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at Oliver and Fox.

        Do I have to see a company doctor for medical treatment of a work-related injury as a first responder?

        One of the most common questions we’re asked by first responders in Florida, and any injured worker in Florida, is whether or not they need to see the work-designated doctor or the insurance company designated doctor. The short answer is yes. It is basically a gatekeeper or mother-may-I system. We need to go through their initial doctor, and the workers’ compensation judge per the statute can only listen to authorized workers’ compensation doctors. If that initial doctor makes a referral, for example, for an orthopedic specialist, the employer then gets to designate who that orthopedic specialist is going to be, as well.

        There are means and ways to go ahead and seek treatment outside of the system in addition to what you’re receiving through workers’ comp and the workers’ comp authorized providers, but, in general, they will not be paid by workers’ comp. Only the workers’ comp authorized doctors, that primary care and any specialists that they authorize, follow it.

        Again, the short answer is, yes, you do need to follow through and seek the workers’ compensation doctors, but there are alternatives. Please call us at Oliver and Fox, and we’d be happy to explain them to you.

        As a first responder, if I am diagnosed with cancer, can I qualify for workers’ compensation in Florida?

        We were recently contacted by another attorney regarding the cancer presumption and first responders. We advised that attorney that cancer presumption is unique in that it’s an opt-out of the workers’ compensation system, meaning that the Florida statutes provide presumptive coverage for firefighters if they develop cancer and meet the qualifying criteria. However, it is an opt-out of the workers’ compensation system, meaning that they’re not provided workers’ compensation benefits, but they are provided benefits pursuant to the statute.

        If you are a firefighter who has been diagnosed with cancer and think that it is related to your employment as a firefighter, we invite you to contact us so we can discuss your options.

        Family Doctor Disagrees with Comp Doctor

        What if the company doctor releases me to go back to work as a first responder but my own doctor disagrees?

        We were recently asked by a first responder how he could possibly return to work with the injuries that he had suffered on the job, even though the employer-appointed authorized work comp doctor did not give him any restrictions and returned him to full duty. We explained that if the workers’ comp authorized doctor does send you back to work, unfortunately, that is the prevailing answer or restriction that you must follow, but there are options. We can ask for a one-time change; you can use an independent medical exam. There are ways of going about getting an alternate opinion to hopefully address your injuries appropriately if you feel that they do provide limitations and prevent you from working.

        Please call us at Oliver and Fox. We’d be happy to evaluate your case and help you through this situation.

        What is important to know about heart-related diseases that may qualify for workers’ comp for first responders in Florida?

        We often speak at union halls and are questioned about the Heart/Lung Bill. Most of the union members do not know that there is a Heart Bill that gives a presumption that any hypertension or heart disease that a first responder in Florida may develop through their career may very well be covered, and medical care may have to be provided for the rest of their life, as well as potential lost wage and permanent impairment and impairment benefits.

        Please call us at Oliver and Fox. We would be very happy to explain what benefits may be available to you under the Florida first responder Heart/Lung Bill.

        Am I eligible for the heart and lung bill even though I didn’t miss time from work as a first responder?

        Our firm was recently contacted by a Florida first responder who asked if he may be eligible for the Heart Bill, even though he did not miss time from work because of the hypertension or heart disease that he had. In that situation, he had actually had a visit to the hospital and been put on medication, but it was during his days off. He still is eligible for the first responder Heart Bill in Florida.

        These types of cases are often improperly denied. Please call us at Oliver and Fox. We would be happy to discuss how to get you your benefits in this situation.

        Four Elements of Heart & Lung Bill

        What are the 4 elements of the heart and lung bill relative to first responder workers’ comp in Florida?

        We are often asked, “How do we qualify for the Florida Heart/Lung Bill?” Florida first responders are entitled to coverage, medical care, for life, plus potential lost wages and impairment benefits if they do qualify. To qualify, you have to basically meet a four-prong test. You have to be part of the protected class, that being a first responder, a firefighter, a law enforcement officer of corrections. You have to have a clean pre-employment physical upon entering into service; that means your physical does not show any hypertension or heart disease. You have to then develop that condition of hypertension or heart disease, and that has to cause some inability to do your full job duties. If that has happened and if those four criteria are met, the presumption then shifts the burden to the employer and they have to prove that the condition is not work-related, and that is very difficult for them to do.

        Please call us at Oliver and Fox. We’d be very happy to discuss how you may be eligible for benefits under the Heart/Lung Bill.

        Can my first responder workers’ compensation claim be apportioned due to pre-existing PTSD?

        We were recently asked by a first responder if he was able to make a PTSD claim, even though he had some prior mental health history. The answer is likely yes, but it depends on the facts of the specific incident or qualifying event that that first responder has seen or endured. Please call us at Oliver and Fox. We’d be happy to evaluate your case and claim.

        How does a first responder qualify for PTSD benefits?

        We were recently contacted by a union leader who asked what is necessary for his members to make a mental health or PTSD type claim. We explained that there are actually two types of claims that can be made. Normally, under regular workers’ compensation, you need to have a physical injury along with your mental health claim for that to stand, but for first responders there’s an exception to that. If you’re just making a mental health claim and not seeking lost wages, you need to just advise your employer, file a notice of injury, and request the care and the benefits. Again, that will be medical care provided, but not the lost wage or lost income.

        On the flip side, there’s a new part of the statute and a new section that entitles a first responder in Florida to lost wages if he’s out for PTSD, a mental health claim, as a result of a qualifying incident and have a manifestation or symptoms develop within 52 weeks of that qualifying event. Please call us at Oliver and Fox. We’d be happy to discuss what benefits are available for you under these types of cases and claims.

        Contracted COVID-19 On Duty

        Do I have a first responder workers’ compensation claim if I contracted COVID-19 while on duty?

        COVID-19 has been a recent inquiry of many claims, due to the pandemic beginning in March of 2020. As a result of the pandemic, we’ve seen lots of COVID-19 claims, and those claims may be eligible for benefits— both state and federal benefits. In Florida, however, our chief financial officer has mandated that front line workers be eligible for benefits should they contract COVID-19.

        How this works with our first responders is that if a first responder contracts COVID-19 or is diagnosed with COVID-19, they must still file a first report of injury and request benefits. They also must have a positive COVID-19 test in order to receive those benefits. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and you’re a first responder, we invite you to contact our office so we can discuss those options.

        Client Reviews

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        “The last year and a half have been exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Right from the start, I stressed over leaving a career behind that I loved with nothing to show for it. I know my law enforcement career was over, but had no idea what I was deserving of. Despite my case being about as clear-cut as they come, I knew I needed help and guidance…that’s where you and your firm came in. Despite my lack of patience, you explained clearly what needed to happen and how to get there.  I am SO GLAD this is over, and I thank you so much for getting me here.”
        – Anonymous.
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