The Florida Workers’ Compensation Guide was created by Oliver & Fox to help first responders obtain maximum compensation for their claim.
In addition to experiencing the misery of dealing with an injury, those who have been injured at work might be feeling frustrated and uncertain. It is sometimes life-altering injuries that bring people to search for Florida workers’ compensation lawyers to represent them. They are looking for some relief for this misery. If you have found yourself in a situation where you were harmed in an accident at work, please do not hesitate to call our office as soon as possible to get set up with a free initial consultation.
What Workers’ Compensation Provides
Workers’ compensation is, as its name suggests, meant to compensate a worker if they are hurt within the scope of their workplace. That might be a grocery store shelf stocker who slipped and hit their head and suffered a TBI, a lifeguard who tore a rotator cuff while rescuing someone, a firefighter who developed lung cancer, an EMT with PTSD, or a construction worker with a broken leg after a fall from a height. The workers’ compensation is meant to provide financial relief for things like medical costs, rehabilitation, therapy, lost wages from time off of work, etc. This compensation is meant to help you get back to work.
There are many different ways someone might need workers’ compensation. There are things like repetition injuries. That might be someone like a cashier who does the same grab, swipe, and place motion for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Eventually, this repetition motion could lead to arthritis, tendinitis, etc. They are nagging injuries that require rest, which might mean that this person cannot be a cashier while they heal or they push through and make their injuries worse because they cannot afford to take the time they need to heal from this.
There are also acute injuries that you might think of when you hear the term workers’ compensation. This would be more along the lines of a construction accident in which someone is hit with debris or scaffolding falls and someone gets hurt, or even if someone tripped over wires that were carelessly placed in a heavy foot traffic area of an office.
Then there are injuries that happen over time and can be permanent and are due to the environment in which the employee works. There are people who are in high-stress workplaces, such as law enforcement or emergency medical services, where there is consistent emotional highs and lows that can result in heart issues as well as psychiatric issues. We see these types of cases a lot and sometimes these workers are so work-oriented they do not want to file for compensation because they just can’t slow down. We urge you to reach out to our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys so we can help you get the compensation you deserve so you can focus on getting better.
Immediately After Your Injury
When you are injured in the workplace, it is essential to your case that you tell your employer that you were hurt as soon as you possibly can after the injury happens. They need to have knowledge that something happened to you in the scope of the workplace. They have a duty to report your injury and make documentation that it happened. This is what you need to do immediately after you have been hurt at work.
Now, you don’t have to get a hold of the head of the company, if you were hurt at a big corporation. It can be a supervisor or manager who works closer to you. That’s not to say you can just tell a coworker you got hurt and then leave the scene. You need to tell someone who has the authority to make an accident report and who can get this officially documented. Also, be sure that you can get a copy of the report.
What Comes Next?
As soon as you can, assure that a report has been filed and has details about the event in question. Make sure that it is correct because it will be used by us later in the process of getting you the results you deserve. We will be able to determine what we believe the compensation for your injuries should be based on how badly hurt you are and how much your life has been impacted by the event. It is also based on your wages or salary.
Right after you report your injury and head to a hospital or urgent care center is the ideal time to reach out to Florida workers’ compensation attorneys to set up a free consultation. We urge you to make that call sooner rather than later because these types of cases, like other personal injury cases (like car accidents), are time-sensitive. You are more likely to get the results you deserve if you act quickly in hiring a lawyer.
Make sure you prioritize your health during this time because you don’t get a second chance with your health. You need to get your injuries taken care of right away. We also need to know what your recovery is going to look like. The longer you delay seeking medical attention, the longer your recovery is going to be.
If you were to wait to seek medical attention, that would be a huge mistake. You are not only putting your health at risk here, you are also more likely to run into problems with the insurance company. The insurance company will see that there was a delay in seeking medical care and they will likely do one of two things. They will either say you lied about when you got hurt (which would allow them to throw away your claim) or they will say that you lied about the severity of the injury (which would allow them to attempt to reduce the compensation they give you). It is always best for you to seek immediate medical attention.
Workers Compensation Benefits
There can be a lot of complications related to your workplace injury that you may not be ready for and have trouble keeping up with. That might be something like a surgery or no longer being able to physically keep up with your daily tasks or physically do the same type of work you did before the injury. This is particularly true for those who have jobs that demand physical labor such as construction workers, nurses, firefighters, law enforcement, etc. Sometimes, it takes a while to recover from these workplace injuries and sometimes you are permanently affected by it.
We want to be able to support you through this difficult time so that you can focus on learning how to live your new normal. It is a terrible reality, but we want to make sure you don’t have to worry about getting the justice you deserve. We know that the insurance companies tend to be stingy and they will low ball you. We take care of the obstacles like this on the path to your full compensation. Our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys are here to help you through this every step of the way, keeping you informed but letting you know with confidence we have this handled for you.
Being a first responder involves more stress than most people will ever understand. Having an injury as a result of working as a first responder can feel frustrating and limiting. Having a health condition due to your job as a first responder can also feel like you’re being held back from what you are supposed to be doing. There’s a lot of pressure in these jobs to perform. It’s not uncommon for first responders who have been injured or are suffering potentially long-term health issues to hesitate to call Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for first responders. We urge you to reach out right away to set up a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
Why Workers’ Compensation Exists
As its name implies, workers’ compensation is meant to compensate the workers for injuries or health issues that occur in the workplace. For first responders, that could involve a myriad of issues, from an acute injury such as slipping and falling and breaking a leg on the job to PTSD to heart and lung disease. When you file for your workers’ compensation, you are essentially requesting to be compensated for your medical costs and lost wages, as well as any rehabilitation or physical therapy or psychiatric help that you might need in order to get back on your feet and get back to work as soon as you can. A lot of first responders are strong and resilient people so it’s hard for them to draw the line in the sand and decide that now is the time that they are going to seek help. We urge you to reach out to our Florida first responder workers’ compensation lawyers so that we can discuss how this is good for you in the long run.
Part of the hesitation comes from the known fact that getting workers’ compensation for things like heart disease or hypertension can be really difficult sometimes because it’s incredibly hard to prove that these types of health issues came from your workplace. Of course, our office understands that the incredible stress and pressure that you were under as a first responder can attribute to the illness that you’re dealing with. We want to get ahead of the insurance company and we don’t want you to just push through these injuries. We know that there is a path for you to get the compensation that you deserve so that you can start recovering and get back on your feet.
4 Step Test
When we are trying to prove that your health issues like PTSD or hypertension came from your work as, say, a law enforcement officer or an EMT, we like to go through four steps to see whether or not we think we’d have a strong case against the insurance company who just wants to turn down your case.
First, we will show that your job is indeed a high stress job. There is no denying that being an EMT, firefighter, or police officer is incredibly stressful. We, as a nation, give thanks to our first responders for putting their lives on the line for our safety. A normal person might not fully comprehend how much stress first responders go through and how high stress can have a physical impact on their health.
Ideally, our client will have a pre-employment physical that shows that they did not previously suffer from the health issue that they are making their workers’ compensation claim about. For example, we would ideally have someone who is saying that they now have heart disease come in with a pre-employment physical that shows that they did not have heart disease prior to taking this job.
We also need to have a diagnosis that they indeed do have heart disease now and that they’ve been working at this workplace for X amount of years or so. The diagnosis would be strong enough for us to show causation.
Then we’re going to show all the ways that this diagnosis has proven you to be incapacitating for the client in some manner. This is basically just saying how this health diagnosis has affected your life. For someone with PTSD, for example, they might not be able to work with this type of incapacitation.
By taking these steps, we are able to get ahead of the insurance company because it’s a lot harder to disprove these things once they’ve been presented like this when we have the upper hand and the advantage.
Taking Care of Yourself
We urge you to get the treatment that you need as soon as you possibly can. If you were to have an acute injury like a broken arm or traumatic brain injury, we would like you to go to the emergency room as soon as you possibly can. If you are suffering from a health issue that happened over a prolonged period of time, such as PTSD or hypertension, it’s not a bad idea to start with your primary care physician.
After you have started on the path to your physical recovery or your psychological recovery, we urge you to reach out to our Florida first responder workers’ compensation lawyers as soon as possible. These cases can be time-sensitive and we want to get started on building the foundation of a strong case for you right away.
We really do urge you to take that first step and decide that this is the time you are going to recover and heal from your illness or your injuries. We know that anxiety and depression among first responders is prevalent and can really affect someone for the rest of their life past their career as an EMT, firefighter, or law enforcement officer. We understand that heart disease and lung disease isn’t as simple as putting a cast on it and waiting several months for it to go away.
You should know that it is a mistake to put off seeking medical attention if you really do need it. Understand, though, that there is a path to getting compensation so that you can deal with this situation financially. We will support you every step of the way if you choose to hire us to be your lawyers and we will make sure that you are taken care of.
How We Help Injured First Responders
Particularly with first responder workplace injuries, there can be a lot of complications that you may not be ready to face. Having developed a lung issue or a heart issue can be really jarring and unsettling because those are really severe issues for someone to deal with on top of the stress of the job and the guilt of having to step back and take time for yourself to recover in this moment. It can take a long time to learn how to live with these health issues or recover from them if that’s a possibility for you.
We make sure that with all of this on your plate you don’t have to worry about the legal aspect of your workers’ compensation claim. We take care of all this heavy lifting and all of the monotony of the law so that you can focus on yourself, your family, and learning how to deal with what you’re going through and figure out what is next for you and your recovery and your possible return to work once you are ready.
Firefighters undergo extreme stress in their workplace. This work is unlike anything else and it is hard for those who don’t work the job to understand what firefighters go through on a daily basis. When firefighters head to a call, it could be something truly horrific. We often see firefighters come to us seeking workers’ compensation after suffering serious health issues due to their work. We know that the health issues firefighters suffer can be severe. Our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for firefighters seek to help people like you get the help they deserve. Call us right away if you are ready to file a workers’ compensation claim. We will be more than happy to set up your free initial consultation.
Why File for Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is available for workers of any kind. It provides financial relief for grocery clerks who slip and hit their hit resulting in a concussion, or a firefighter who has developed lung cancer in the scope of their workplace. Our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for firefighters have dedicated part of their practice specifically to helping firefighters get the financial relief they need from insurance companies for the harm they face at work.
Our goal is to help you get the workers’ compensation that will fully and fairly cover the finances needed for the harm that befalls you as a firefighter. You can receive compensation for your medical bills, physical or psychological therapy, medication, etc. Some of the health issues that you suffer from might be long-term or leave you disabled. The compensation that you receive should cover your financial needs in full. If you need physical therapy for your injury or you will be struggling with PTSD long term, your compensation should reflect that.
We have noticed a trend with first responders such as firefighters. There tends to be a hesitation to finally step back and take the time needed to get the treatment necessary to recover. There is a lot of pressure to continue helping people. You may feel guilty for stepping away. But we truly urge you to get the help you deserve. Your health is so very important and we know that, while it is a hard decision to make, taking care of yourself is never the wrong decision, especially when it helps you to live a life that is more enjoyable.
The Four-Step Process for a Strong Case
There are several types of health issues that you may experience in the scope of the workplace as a firefighter that we will get deeper into shortly, but it is often hard to prove that they were a result of working as a firefighter. For example, PTSD, heart disease, cancer, etc. are hard to link definitively to being a firefighter. We have a four-step process that allows us to get ahead of the insurance company and put your case in good stead.
The insurance company will do everything in their power to discredit your case. One of the most common things they will try to say is that your health issues are not related to your work. We want to get ahead of them here. Our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for firefighters have a way to do this:
- We like to show the insurance company that you indeed work an extremely stressful job. That might include featuring incidents that are related to your health issues, ex: someone with PTSD witnessing horrors during a call.
- We look to your medical records to find a pre-employment physical that shows that you did not have a diagnosis for the condition in which you are seeking workers’ compensation for, ex: a pre-employment physical where you are not diagnosed with hypertension.
- We again look to your medical records to see that you have a diagnosis recently that shows you have been diagnosed with the medical condition you are seeking compensation for.
- We display to the insurance company how much your life has been impacted by your diagnosis.
Our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for firefighters go through this process so that we force the insurance company to go on the defensive, which gives us the upper hand. We know these insurance companies put up a fight, but we will make sure it’s a harder fight for them than it is for us.
Issues that Firefighters Face
The hazards that a firefighter faces on the job are as follows:
- Heat exhaustion
- Extreme stress, physical and mental
- Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide
Because of the exposures to these hazards, there is a likely chance that they will be prone to certain diseases. If they have unhealthy habits as well, such as smoking or heavy drinking, that increases the risk.
Here are some of the health issues firefighters frequently experience:
- Heart Disease: Nearly half of the work-related deaths with firefighters are due to heart attacks. This is due to the environment that firefighters face, which is that of heat exposure, carbon monoxide exposure, and stress. If someone is overweight, not in the best of shape, or smokes, the risk of heart attack is higher. Also, the heart requires oxygen and if someone who is a firefighter is exposed to carbon monoxide in high levels, this can cause heart issues as well.
- Cancer: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health did a study that showed that firefighters are more than twice as likely to have a cancer diagnosis than non-firefighters. The types of cancers they often are diagnosed with are colon, bladder, brain, kidney, and lymphoma.
- Respiratory Disease: Even the healthiest of firefighters, when exposed to enough hazards, can experience respiratory disease. The lung issues that they face can be temporary or permanent. They are around so many things that should not be burned because they let off toxic chemicals and they often suffer consequences because of that.
- Hepatitis: Because the first people who arrive at a scene are firefighters, they often come into contact with blood. This blood could be contaminated with the hepatitis B and C viruses.
- Stress: Being a firefighter is demanding both physically and mentally. There is so much pressure on the shoulders of our firefighters. When someone is exposed to extreme stress very often, it causes physical side effects. Along with PTSD, stress can cause GI issues, heart issues, and an inability to enjoy life.
Our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for firefighters do our work because people who seek compensation for these types of health issues deserve someone in their corner to go up against the insurance companies and ensure that the compensation they receive covers their damages in full. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us right away to get a free first consultation. You deserve the ability to seek medical attention that will provide you with the financial relief you deserve.
Your Health is Important
Being a firefighter is very dangerous. The exposure to extreme heat, stressful situations, horrifying scenes, and being on high alert at all times during a shift can make even the strongest of people suffer terribly from a myriad of health issues. We implore you to take the time you need to take care of yourself. We know that might mean stepping away from your duties as a firefighter either temporarily or permanently. We really do understand why you might struggle with this decision. However, we urge you to prioritize yourself.
Your health issues will likely worsen with neglect. You should seek treatment as soon as you possibly can so you can get the financial relief you deserve and get on the mend. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our office right away so we can set you up on a path for success with your workers’ compensation claim.
Being a police officer Is more stressful than most people will ever understand. Getting hurt or getting sick because of your job as a law enforcement officer can feel very limiting. If you have a condition based on the job that you do, you can feel like you’re not giving your community the support it needs. We understand how frustrating this must feel for you when all you want to do is work but your body is saying no. We see a lot of these cases with police officers suffering long-term medical conditions who have a hard time taking that first step towards recovery. We urge you to make a phone call to our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys for law enforcement and set up a free consultation with us as soon as you possibly can.
How Police Officers Get Hurt
There are various reasons why an officer could get hurt on the job. Here are the most common reasons why police officers experience injuries at work:
- Being physically attacked or exposed to a violent citizen
- Being exposed to things such as drugs or hazardous materials that can cause health issues
- Experiencing health issues due to stress such as mental health and PTSD
- Auto accidents
The injuries related to these incidents can include burns, hypertension and heart issues, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, head, neck, and back injuries, and in the worst of cases, death.
Why You Should File a Claim
Workers’ compensation, as its name suggests, is financial relief for workers who were hurt while in the scope of the workplace. When police officers are hurt on the job, it could be for a number of reasons from an acute injury like a twisted ankle to chronic conditions such as PTSD and hypertension. Some recoveries are quick and others are going to be lifelong issues that you learn to manage the symptoms of. When you file for your workers’ compensation, you are asking for financial relief for the costs of your medical and hospital bills, as well as for lost earnings you incurred when recovering and any therapy that is required for your treatment. Workers’ compensation generally covers anything that you need to get back on your feet within necessity and reason.
A lot of police officers are the types who have a hard time taking vacations or stepping away from the job and they just want to keep serving and protecting their communities. Because of this, it’s hard for them to decide when enough is enough with their injuries or health issues, seek treatment, and file a workers’ comp claim. We understand how this might be a difficult decision for you but we truly encourage you to reach out to our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys for law enforcement so we can set you up with a first, free consultation to go over the details of your case and give you the guidance you need.
We understand if you hesitate to file your claim because of the fact that it can be hard to prove to the insurance company that certain illnesses are caused by your workplace. For example, hypertension is difficult to trace back to work as a police officer. We aim to get ahead of the insurance companies and put them on the defensive by building a strong foundation for your case. We aim to make their path of blocking you from compensation hard for them. We understand how to make sure that you get what you need for your recovery and we urge you to reach out and put your faith in our attorneys.
Our 4 Step Test to See How Strong Your Case Is
The way we manage a tough case when there is a difficult to prove health condition like hypertension or PTSD is we go through a process that involves four steps to determine that we have a strong case against the insurance company. If we can get through this four-step test with the correct outcomes, then we will be able to rely more on the strength of our case and trust that the insurance company will have a harder time turning you away.
The first step is to prove that before your job you did not suffer this health illness. We don’t give our police officers enough credit in the United States and we often underestimate the stress that they go through. Stress for anyone can affect their health but when it is a daily occurrence and in immense amounts, it can have long-lasting implications for someone’s health. Ideally, we need to prove to the insurance company that before you started working as a police officer, before you were exposed to all that high stress on a daily basis, you were free of illness. That illness could be hypertension, heart disease, or PTSD. It is going to make our job of correlating your health condition to your employment as a police officer easier to prove if we have a pre-employment physical that shows you clear of these health conditions.
Second, we will look for a physical that took place after you took a job as a police officer that shows that you indeed do suffer hypertension or heart disease or PTSD now. Once we have this diagnosis, it helps us draw the line between you starting this job and you developing this condition, which makes our case stronger against the insurance company.
From here, we have the task of showing the insurance company all of the ways in which your life has been affected by your health diagnosis. If you have PTSD, maybe you can’t live your life the way you used to. If you have a heart diagnosis, you might need to make major life changes. We want to have all of this documented so we can show the insurance company how much your life has been affected.
Once our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys for law enforcement are able to do these things, we are going to be able to put the insurance company on defense, making it harder for them to disprove the case that we are presenting. This will help us create a stronger foundation for your case, which gives us an advantage over the insurance company.
How We Help Injured Police Officers
With a lot of first responders such as police officers, it’s hard to stop working and address your health issues. It can be unsettling and jarring to experience an issue that can’t be taken care of right away and get you back on the job as soon as possible. Heart issues are an example of something that can happen because of the stress that you experience on your job day to day. Starting your recovery often means not being able to work temporarily and, in the severest of cases, permanently. We always tell law enforcement officers that getting medical care is paramount. You cannot serve and protect your community if you aren’t taking care of yourself first.
With all of this worrying you, we make one thing easier for you. We aim to make your legal process as simple as possible for you so that you can focus on your recovery and your family. We do this so that we can hopefully get you back to work as soon as possible by getting you compensation you need for your recovery
Working on an ambulance is often traumatic and beyond the public’s idea of what stress can be. When you are hurt or suffer a health condition due to your job as an EMT, you should be eligible for workers’ compensation. If you believe that you are suffering due to your job, then we hope that you would reach out to us as soon as possible. We know that a lot of first responders, including EMTs, have a hard time stepping away from their jobs to take time for themselves and their recovery. We also know, however, that your health is all you have at the end of the day and it is paramount to your career. Call us today to set up a free consultation with our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for EMTs.
How EMTs Get Hurt
Being an EMT can often be a physical job as well as an emotionally taxing job. Most people don’t understand the horrible experiences you have to go through and that you see the worst of it, oftentimes on a daily basis. Here are the common ways that EMTs suffer due to their job:
- Getting hurt in an encounter with a scared and violent patient
- Getting exposed to dangerous materials such as drugs that can cause health problems
- Witnessing horrors that causes mental health problems, including PTSD
- Getting in an auto accident
EMTs can experience an entire array of possible injuries while they’re on the job. It can range from a minor injury to a lifelong injury and sometimes even death. Our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for EMTs want to be by your side and fight for your right to full compensation for your damages. We will guide you through your entire case every step of the way.
The Benefits of Filing a Claim
Workers’ compensation is essentially health insurance that your employer carries that is intended to help their employees get back to work as soon as they can. When you are hurt while working in an ambulance, it could be for a variety of reasons, and sometimes it’s harder to prove that an injury or illness such as hypertension or PTSD was due to your job as an EMT. Sometimes, the injuries are quickly healed and require minimal compensation; other times, you are going to be dealing with permanent disability. PTSD can often lead to permanent disability which would require extensive workers’ compensation. The compensation generally covers your hospital bills, medical fees, physical therapy, and psychiatric therapy, as well as the earnings you lose while you are recovering. Anything that treats your injury sustained while in the workplace is covered by your workers’ compensation if it is within necessity and reason.
EMTs tend to be people who don’t want to stop working because what they do is so important to the community. We respect that about you and if you hesitate to bring your claim because you want to continue to help those who need you, we want you to know that your health is more important. You won’t be able to continue to help people if you let your injuries go and let them get worse to the point where you may not be able to ever recover in a way that would’ve let you return to work. Our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for EMTs would like to set you up with a free, first consultation as soon as you possibly can so that we can understand what your circumstances are and what you are entitled to and start building a strong case.
If you are hesitating to file your claim, please know that we have extensive knowledge of workers’ compensation claims for first responders, including EMTs. We’ve seen all the obstacles in a case before and we have the resources and the wherewithal to handle these types of obstacles to get you the success that you need. You may have heard of others being turned away for injuries or illnesses that you suffer. We know how to show the insurance company that there is a correlation between your injuries and your job as an EMT and that you deserve workers’ compensation for this so that you can start to recover and hopefully return to work as soon as possible.
Our 4 Step Test to Determine the Strength of Our Case
We understand that some injuries such as hypertension or PTSD fall under the category of “hard to prove” to the insurance company. To that end, we have this four-step test to see how strong your case would be, which involves the following:
- The first thing we must do is prove that your job is indeed stressful, which is something that most people will never understand if they’ve never worked a first responder job. Having said that your job is indeed stressful will allow us to create the opening we need to show that this intense stress could lead to illnesses, such as hypertension or PTSD.
- Step two would be to find a physical that you had performed before your employment as an EMT. When we pull up this pre-employment physical, we are looking for a lack of diagnosis of whichever injury or illness you are correlating to your job as an EMT. For example, if you needed to file a workers’ compensation claim because of your hypertension due to the intense stress that you undergo as an EMT, we want to find that pre-employment physical that shows that you did not have hypertension prior to taking this position as an EMT.
- Step three is finding a physical that you had recently or getting you one as soon as possible that has a diagnosis of the health condition you are filing workers’ compensation for. Going with the example of hypertension, we want to be able to show that you did not have hypertension before you took the job as an EMT and now, after some time working on an ambulance, you do indeed suffer hypertension.
- Last, would be to detail all of the ways in which your health condition has affected your life. If you suffer PTSD due to your job as an EMT, then our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for EMTs have the duty to show all of the ways in which your enjoyment of life has decreased, as well as any other ways in which PTSD has affected your life.
Once we can establish these four things, our lawyers will have an easier time putting the insurance company on the defensive, meaning that we have the advantage and we have to make them prove that what we are claiming is not true, which is harder. This will give us a strong case for you going forward.
How We Help Injured EMTs
We help EMTs by creating a strong foundation for their case and allowing them the space to go through the difficult emotions attached to this circumstance. We understand that you might hesitate to bring your case for various reasons, including being fearful of getting turned away because you have a hard-to-prove injury or illness. We know how to handle those types of cases. We understand that you might also hesitate because you want to keep working and pushing yourself in order to continue to help the people in your community. We want to help you understand that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Filing a claim gets you one step closer to living without hindrance from your illness or injury.
We know just how much is on your mind and how much stress is on your plate right now. We aim to make your claim as smooth and simple as possible so that your main focus can be your health and your family. As soon as you are ready to take the step towards filing a workers’ compensation claim, please get in touch with our attorneys today.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you are going through an unimaginable and scary time for you and your family. Our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys for first responders with cancer want to help you with your workers’ compensation claim so that you can get the full and fair justice that you deserve. We understand how these cases work and how we can get you the best results from the insurance company, so please get in touch as soon as possible and set up your free initial consultation with us as soon as you can.
First responders are subject to a lot of hazardous and toxic scenarios with a lot of carcinogens. Especially if there is a house fire or an explosion or a fire relating to an auto accident, first responders can be exposed to a lot of different carcinogens that, over time, can cause cancer. We are so sorry that you have to go through this but we understand that for you to get the physical recovery that you deserve you need to get the financial recovery that you are entitled to, and we can help you with that process.
The Unique Health Risks First Responders Face
Long term exposure to things like car fires and burning buildings, as well as the flame retardants that might be present at events such as these, can cause there to be toxic smoke in the air. Along with this smoke, there are a myriad of other hazardous chemicals in the air, including the exhaust from diesel trucks that are idling nearby during these events. These toxins can sit on the skin and absorb through there as well as enter the body through the air passageways. First responders not only experience long-term exposure to extreme stress, they also have an increased risk of cancer because of exposure to toxins.
The Risk of the Job
First responders definitely have an increased risk of developing certain types of cancers that include but are not limited to melanomas, lung, brain, colon, kidney, prostate etc. There have been many studies done regarding the increased risk of developing cancer among first responders across a variety of professions:
- For firefighters there is a 60% increased for developing lung cancer
- For law-enforcement there is a 25% increased risk for developing cancer
- For female firefighters, they are six times more likely to develop breast cancer
- For firefighters who have served after 20 years there is an increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma colon and kidney cancer
- For firefighters who have served over 30 years there is an increased risk of developing leukemia brain cancer and lymphoma
If first responders have had a history of smoking in their lifetime in addition to the exposure to hazardous material in their jobs, they have an increased risk of developing smoking-related cancers such as lung cancer.
If you suffer from cancer and you believe that it was based on your service as a first responder, our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys for first responders with cancer would love to hear from you to get started on building a strong foundation for your case during a free consultation. We understand that you might hesitate to reach out but we are here for you when you are ready and we hope that you do so as soon as you possibly can so that we can get started right away. Your case is important to us. You are not just a file number to us. You are a brave and dedicated hero of our community and we want to help you get the workers’ compensation that you deserve.
Starting Your Treatment
Hopefully, as a first responder, you will be getting regular physicals that include cancer screenings, if you have any sort of warning signs or indicators that you might be suffering from cancer. We want you to get that diagnosis sooner rather than later so that you can begin your treatment right away. Every year you should be going to a doctor’s office to get a screening even if it’s just a physical to check for lumps and bumps and abnormalities. You should always be very honest with your healthcare providers and let them know if you have a family history of cancer. You should also make them aware of the stress that you undergo due to your job as a first responder so that they can better care for you and identify the early warning signs of cancer. During your yearly exam, you want them to include the following:
- A full physical
- A full lab panel of blood and urine tests
- Breathing test
- A chest x-ray every five years and a CT when needed
- Cancer screenings for the main types of cancer including prostate, breast, cervical, colon and lung
We understand that it is a scary process to sit down and find out you have cancer. We are deeply sorry that this is your reality but we understand that it is the job of the insurance company to provide you with the workers’ compensation that you need in this time so you can get the necessary financial relief. We don’t want you to go without this type of compensation and not be able to get the treatment that you deserve to get. We need to treat our first responders like family because of how much they help our community. Our lawyers want to do that for you. We want to fight for you to get the help you deserve like we would for our own family and just like what you do for our families.
File Your Claim as Soon as Possible
Having your claim filed as soon as possible means that we have more time to put together a strong case, which gives you the best chance at a fair outcome. We know that stepping down to take medical care for cancer can often mean that you have to reduce your workload or take a break all together. A lot of people don’t want to do this because it means that they can’t continue doing the job they want to do.
We know how much you and your fellow first responders do for our community and how you make us all safer but your health should not suffer because of it. We want you to get the help that you deserve and the help that you need. Sometimes, that means making yourself a priority. We understand that it is a hard decision to make and that hearing you have cancer is life-altering. We want to make your life is easier at this moment and take care of your workers’ compensation so that you can focus on yourself and your family and living your new normal.
Receiving a diagnosis of heart disease or hypertension can be life-altering. You may be feeling uneasy and overwhelmed with the news. If you believe that this diagnosis is correlated with your work as a first responder, you likely are looking to receive workers’ compensation. Our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for first responders with heart disease are here to help you achieve success with your case. We know that you deserve full and fair compensation and we know how to get that for you because these cases are things that we handle on a daily basis. We know the insurance companies’ tactics— they tend to see issues such as heart disease or hypertension as hard to prove, which makes them more likely to turn down your claim. We urge you to get in contact with us as soon as you possibly can so that we can start working on building a strong foundation for your case as soon as possible.
Our first responders are a group of dedicated and hard-working individuals who are put in hazardous situations more often than the general public might think. A typical day as a first responder involves exposure to toxins and stress and can lead to a myriad of health issues for EMTs, police officers, and firefighters. We are here to help you build a case that shows just how much your job has to do with the diagnosis of heart disease or hypertension. With this strong foundation, we can set you on a path to getting the full and fair compensation that you deserve.
Determine the Strength of Your Case with Four Steps
A claim like yours where you are claiming that your heart disease is related to your work as a first responder can be harder to prove. For cases like yours, we put it to a test to determine its strength. This is how it goes:
- The first thing we like to do is showcase to the insurance company that your job is stressful. That might include discussing events that you have been through or a series of events that you have partaking in that have caused you extreme stress that, in turn, has had an impact on your health. We are trying to prove that eventually the amount of stress you went through has led to your heart disease.
- Step two would be locating a pre-employment physical that shows that you were without the diagnosis of heart disease prior to beginning your job. We want to have this so that we can draw a clear line between your job as a first responder and your current diagnosis of heart disease.
- Third, we will be looking at a recent diagnosis that you have had done or will be having done right away that shows your diagnosis of heart disease. When we have these two medical records side-by-side, we will be able to present our case to the insurance company, demonstrating that you did not have heart disease before taking your job as a first responder and that now, after some time and the stress that you went through in your job, you have heart disease.
- The last step is to tell the insurance company about all of the ways that your life has been negatively impacted by your diagnosis of heart disease. We want to be able to show all the negative impacts of this diagnosis so that when you receive your workers’ compensation it will be full and fair.
Once our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for first responders with heart disease can showcase all of the ways that you have been impacted by this diagnosis and how we believe that it’s related to your job as a first responder, we can tell the insurance company exactly what we want from them and put them on the defensive, forcing them have to essentially prove that our theory isn’t true, which is much harder for them and gives us a better chance of success.
Higher Risk of Cardiac Arrest Among First Responders
If a first responder were to experience a cardiac event on the job, it would render them helpless. It is not ideal for first responders to need medical care while they are attending to an emergency situation. This is why our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for first responders with heart disease encourage them to file their cases sooner rather than later to avoid situations like this. For instance, a firefighter attending to a burning building who suffers a heart attack would cause two emergencies on the scene. When untreated, heart disease gets worse and becomes a deadly disease, especially for first responders who have a high stakes job with lots of stress and high physical demand.
There is research going on into why there are so many first responders who have died on the job of heart-related issues, rather than the hazards of their jobs like car accidents or fire-related injuries or violent attacks. Firefighters are more likely to die of cardiac events than a non-firefighter, even though it is one of the most dangerous professions in the globe.
We see cases all of the time where a first responder hesitates to file their workers’ compensation claim because sometimes that means stepping away from their jobs and not being able to serve their community. If not getting the help that you need, however, means that you end up having a medical emergency while you’re responding to an emergency that you’re trying to take care of, then it’s all for naught. You need to take care of your health above all else if you want to continue to provide for your community.
Heart Related Health Issues
Research states that 20% of cardiac cases involve deaths from heart attacks. Additionally, 82% of these deaths have been linked to coronary heart disease, which can be described as arteries in the heart narrowing or hearts becoming enlarged.
The scary truth is that the stress and environment of first responders, in particular those responding to emergencies with smoke and burning chemicals in the air, can result in a higher risk of developing heart disease. This type of work involving extreme stress, extreme heat, exposure to smoke and diesel fumes, as well as the physical demands of the job, can trigger a cardiac event with those who have underlying disease. There is some evidence to point to a correlation between cardiac events with people who had underlying heart disease and jobs like first responders, where there is a high physical demand as well as high stress environment.
It is important for first responders who have underlying heart disease to seek the treatment that they need in order to prevent a cardiac event that could eventually result in their deaths if it goes untreated for a prolonged period of time. When people are in a stressful situation like most first responders see themselves, the amount of adrenaline can cause a heart attack or, worse, death.
How Blood Clots are Related to Firefighting
Firefighters are among the first responders who have an increased risk of blood clots, which can lead to more serious issues down the line. It is due to their exposure to extreme temperatures, their risk of having dehydration, coupled with low blood pressure and their blood rushing to the skin to keep the body cool. All these factors contribute to blood clots.
In scenarios like this when people are in extreme temperatures as well as having the added exertion of rescuing people from fires or putting out a fire, they need to take time to rehydrate and get their body temperature to regulate. Oftentimes, the stress of the job doesn’t give you the time to take care of yourself in between calls or to properly maintain your body temperature if you’re constantly exposed to extreme weather. It can be very dangerous when firefighters are put through this, and they suffer blood clots because of it.
If you believe that your diagnosis of heart disease, including blood clots or even strokes and heart attacks, could be related to your job as a firefighter or a first responder, please get into contact with our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for responders with heart disease. We want to help you get your results in the fullest.
If you have been diagnosed with lung disease and you believe it is due to your work as a first responder, you may be looking for help from Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for first responders with lung disease. We want to be by your side as you take the steps needed toward recovery. We understand how insurance companies handle cases like yours and we want to make sure you get full and fair compensation for your damages.
Among the many hazards that first responders encounter, the chemicals and smoke they are exposed to, especially for firefighters, can cause lung disease.
If you suffer lung disease due to your work as a first responder, please don’t hesitate to get into contact with our office as soon as possible. We want to help you get the results you deserve. Reach out today to set up your free initial consultation.
Firefighters Are at a Higher Risk for Having Lung Disease
Due to the frequent exposure to hazardous materials such as carbon monoxide, as well as a variety of different airborne hazards including asbestos and hydrogen cyanide, being a firefighter is extremely dangerous for lung health and can raise the risk of developing cancer. If you envision a house fire with all of the objects inside the home that are not meant to burn or safe to burn because of the chemicals they released when they burn, realize that firefighters are exposed to those circumstances frequently. Long-term exposure to situations like that have been linked to an increased risk of lung issues such as:
- Chronic cough or hoarseness
The more severe health risks for firefighters may include the following:
- Certain types of cancers including lung
- Autoimmune disorders
- Diseases of the respiratory system
The chemical makeup of smoke is so hazardous because it involves something called particle pollution, which is essentially a blend of solid and liquid particles in the air that are small enough to get deep into the lungs and lodge in there. When firefighters are inhaling air like this which is hazardous and/or carcinogenic, that poses a risk to their health.
Along with the hazards of the house or building fire that they’re responding to, firefighters are also exposed to a carcinogen from their own trucks that are sitting there idling while they are in the station or at a fire. Diesel exhaust is a known carcinogen and it is important for you to be aware of all of the hazards that you were exposed to so you know what the health risks are.
Our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for first responders with lung disease are more than happy to sit down during your free consultation and give you the answers that you’ve been looking for.
Lung Health Dangers of Being a First Responder
Being around poor air quality constantly on your job with smoke and chemicals and pollutants could have an extensive impact on your bodily functions and health. This is what you need to know about the possible health implications that you face due to your job as a firefighter. You need to discuss the matter with your doctor to get a full scope of what you’re up against with regards to your health. Once our Florida workers’ compensation lawyers for first responders with lung disease can get a better idea of your damages, then we can get to work on valuing your claim sooner.
Short term exposure, such as inhaling smoke from a fire, pollutants, and hazardous chemicals might result in the following:
- Persistent cough
- Buildup of phlegm
- Shortness of breath
- Worsening of asthma you already had
The health effects of the long-term exposure particular for firefighters is still being studied. Right now, the data can show that being a firefighter correlates with a higher chance of dying of cancer, including lung cancer. If you have been a firefighter for a very long time, it’s important that you get screened for lung cancer, especially if you are in a high-risk demographic. High-risk people would be older people who have had a history of smoking. If you believe that you might suffer from long-term lung disease or lung cancer, it’s important that you get in contact with your doctor right away.
Be on the Look for Early Lung Disease Warning Signs
If you are a first responder, in particular a firefighter, you need to be on the lookout for the warning signs of lung disease if you have yet to be diagnosed. If you are coughing constantly or you have wheezing going on you might think that it’s nothing to worry about, but this is one of the most important first signs of lung disease that you need to be paying attention to. When you go to your doctor you need to tell them everything about you, including how long you’ve worked as a first responder or firefighter. Make sure you’re getting frequent periodic tests for lung function. This might reveal lung disease early.
File Your Claim Right Away
We want to see you get the compensation you need and that means you should file your claim as soon as possible. We understand that first responders are typically people who fight for their communities to be safe. Especially for firefighters, who are there to essentially rescue lives and homes, taking a step away from the job can feel wrong. And we understand that when you file your workers’ compensation claim it typically means getting in to see the doctor and having them tell you that you need to take time off of work to recover, even if it’s temporary. This can be a very difficult decision for first responders and firefighters in particular because that means that the help you give your community is delayed or stopped. We know that you want to continue to do your job but we also know that you cannot perform a job if you are ill. We encourage you to take the proper steps to get the help you need and the compensation you deserve so that you can start feeling better and hopefully you can return eventually to work better than you were before.
The stress of working as a first responder is intense. It is unlike anything that most people will ever be able to truly understand if they have not worked a job like it. Given what first responders are exposed to, it is common for them to suffer from PTSD, which can be debilitating. You can feel like you’ve lost your normal life if you suffer PTSD. You may long for the days before your work as a first responder when you didn’t suffer like this. PTSD is a long-term health issue, and when you are able to show that the development of your PTSD is due to your work as a first responder, you should pursue a workers’ compensation case. Our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys for first responders with PTSD are here to help. Please call right away for your free initial consultation.
What Workers’ Compensation is For
The description is in the name: Workers’ compensation gives compensation to workers who have experienced harm or injuries due to their workplace. Our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys for first responders with PTSD have special knowledge of cases like yours. We have seen a lot of first responders come to us for help because they experience PTSD. Suffering PTSD is a serious health issue that can affect the way you live your daily life.
We can help you file for workers’ compensation. This compensation is going to provide financial relief for your medical bills, therapy, medication, etc. PTSD is a bit different from other workers’ compensation cases because you cannot necessarily provide a timeline of when a patient will be complete free of symptoms. For instance, someone having a broken bone from a fall that happened at work will likely have a set amount of time they will wear a cast and a set amount of time where they will participate in physical therapy until they will be expected to be almost back to normal. PSTD is not a curable illness but there are ways to manage the symptoms.
We understand that, especially with first responders, there is a hesitation to file the claim and take the time to step back and start treatment. There is a lot riding on your shoulders as a first responder and we understand it might be hard to hear from a doctor that you need to take some time to focus on your health. It might mean that you spend less time serving the community. We know how frustrating this may feel but we assure you that it is a good thing to file a claim. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Doing a 4-Step Test
It isn’t always easy to prove that PTSD came from a workplace. Please understand that, when you are seeking financial relief to help treat the symptoms of PTSD, the insurance company is going to do what they do and try to reduce what they owe you. We need to get ahead of them and put them on the defensive. We want a strong case of correlation that they would have to disprove rather than us trying to prove something that they’ve already wrote off as irrelevant.
What we mean by this is we will prove that there is a correlation between your PTSD and the work you do as a first responder. Your Florida workers’ compensation attorneys for first responders with PTSD will go through a four-step test to build a strong foundation for your case.
- We show the insurance company that you work a stressful job. If you think that your PTSD is related to a certain incident or series of events, we will bring forth evidence of these events.
- We will look for a physical that you went through before your employment where you hopefully had not been diagnosed with PTSD. A lack of a diagnosis of PTSD before you started working as a first responder will be strong evidence for us.
- Next, we look for a current diagnosis that you have that shows you have PTSD. We can draw some conclusions that you more than likely suffer PTSD due to your job.
- We show the insurance company all of the ways your PTSD diagnosis has impacted your life.
Our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys for first responders with PTSD do this because it puts us ahead of the insurance company. We want them trying to catch up with us, because these cases are so hard to prove.
First Responders with PTSD
There have been studies done and research that has shown that there may be a correlation between stressful jobs of first responders and the development of PTSD. There was a survey done in 1205 by Fitch & Associates’ Ambulance Service Manager Program that involved over 4,000 people. This survey revealed that 86% of participants experienced stress related to their job that either stemmed from one incident or an accumulation of stress over a longer course of time.
The survey also revealed that 37% of participants said that they were at some point suicidal, while 6.6% of participants said they made attempts on their own lives.
Our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys for first responders with PTSD understand the severity of PTSD and we know that for our first responders such as police officers, firefighters, and EMTs, all see horrors in your job that could shake up the soundest of minds forever. Please know that you have rights to workers’ compensation that we can help you get.
Whether you suffer from PTSD due to what you saw on duty or what happened to you, such as an extreme injury, we want you to know that you are eligible for workers’ compensation, which is meant to help you with the financial losses related to your PTSD.
If you are unsure whether you suffer PTSD, we urge you to seek medical help to get an official diagnosis. These are the most common symptoms of PTSD:
- Trouble sleeping due to nightmares
- Seeing previous events in flashbacks
- Depression and irritability
- Behavior that could be categorized as self-destructive
- Being emotionally detached
There is a myriad of health issues that can stem from PTSD such as GI issues, high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, ulcers, and more. When you file for workers’ compensation, you not only seek financial relief for your PTSD treatment, but can also receive financial relief for your associated health issues.
Taking Care of Yourself
We know that first responders tend to be active and giving people. It is hard to take a break even when it is needed. We know that with PTSD, you won’t be in search of a cure, but when symptoms become intrusive of your daily life, we want you to be able to take some time and get the treatment you require. If that means you have therapy sessions once a week, we urge you to do so. If it means starting on a medication with your physician’s supervision, we urge you to try.
PTSD doesn’t just go away, and leaving it untreated can increase the severity of the symptoms. We hope you take good care of yourself. In the meantime, allow our Florida Workers’ Compensation Attorneys for First Responders with PTSD help you get the financial relief you need in order to get the help you deserve.
Frequently Asked Workers’ Compensation Questions
Why do I need a first responder workers’ compensation lawyer?
We were talking to some first responders the other day and they asked why they actually need a first responders workers’ comp attorney. First, workers’ compensation is general laws that are for everyone, not just for first responders, but then there are extra statutes that apply for first responders that a lot of regular workers’ comp attorneys may not know, may not follow, may not be aware of. There are many extra classes of benefits, and your workers’ compensation claim can have a tremendous effect on your pension benefits and vice versa, so it’s very important to have someone that’s fully aware of both of your workers’ compensation claim and whether it’s heart/lung, PTSD, cancer, a repetitive injury or just a regular physical injury handle that and how it interplays with your potential in line-of-duty disability benefits and pension benefits and employment. We seek to keep you employed, to keep you working to protect your career, and in doing so, again, handle that to maximize benefits that are available for you.
How long do I have to file a first responder workers’ compensation claim in Florida?
We had a client who reached out to us because he suffered an injury, and he wanted to know how long he had to report that claim. The answer to that question is very complicated in Florida because depending upon when the claim occurred, if treatment was provided or if notification was provided to a supervisor, the answer could vary. In addition, Florida has a requirement that on all compensable claims that you must treat one time per year in order to keep the claim open. Unfortunately, we see oftentimes and individual have a workers’ compensation claim, however those benefits lapse because they do not keep up with their annual treatment.
What mistakes are often made by first responders during a workers’ compensation case in Florida?
The other day we were speaking to a union leader and we had a very good question posed, and that is, “What are some of the most common mistakes that first responders in Florida make?” We told them that there are several. First and foremost, don’t resign, don’t retire, don’t quit, as this may eliminate eligibility for your benefits, whether it be for your pension and line-of-duty of disability or workers’ compensation. The next is always file a notice of injury. Even if you don’t need medical care at that time, file a notice of injury, put everyone on notice that you had a work-related injury. Failure to do that may not have any immediate effects, but it may prevent you from making a claim in months, years, or towards the end of your career. It can destroy what may be a very good claim, just by failing to file and give your employer notice. Failing to follow the doctor’s recommendations, restrictions, and simply failing to follow up with your claim at least once every year, seeing an authorized doctor.
These are some of the most common mistakes that are made and we say please avoid them at all costs. Even if this is done or you want more information on how to avoid these common mistakes, please call us at Oliver and Fox and we can assist you through your workers’ compensation claim in Florida.
How do I choose the best workers’ compensation attorney for first responders in Florida?
In choosing the right attorney to represent an injured first responder regarding a workers’ compensation claim, it’s important to select an attorney that is well-versed not only in workers’ comp, but also can handle the issues regarding the agency and potentially pension issues. A lot of times our clients come to us and they have injuries, and we are able to provide their benefits and put them back to work relatively easy and quickly with no issues. However, there are occasions when an injured first responder cannot return back to work, and this affects not only their employment but as well as potential pension issues within line-of-duty disability pension.
We invite you to call our firm so that we can discuss these options, whether your injury is relatively small or catastrophic, where we can help with those recommendations.
What recommendations would you give first responders as they are entering their profession as it relates to workers’ comp?
In speaking with union, there are several pieces of advice that we give to the union members, particularly to the incoming first responders for firefighters and law enforcement. A couple of critical or key important things that they need to consider is, one, to maintain a copy of their pre-employment physical. The pre-employment physical is very important not only for identifying the physical condition that each first responder entered service in, but it’s also essential for application of the presumption pursuant to the Heart Bill.
In addition, the young first responders entering service often feel invincible. However, after years of service, the toll that serving as a first responder takes on its body is important, so it’s important to document every injury file, each notice of injury, with the agency, contemporaneous with when it occurs and seek and continue in medical treatment in order to receive all benefits that each first responder is entitled to.
If you have any questions as you’re entering into service as a first responder, as to how workers’ compensation benefits apply to you, please do not hesitate to contact us at Oliver and Fox.
How long will my first responder workers’ compensation case take?
We’re often asked how long it may take for a first responder workers’ compensation claim or any workers’ compensation claim to resolve in the state of Florida. The first thing that’s important to understand is that you never have to settle your case, neither does the employer carrier. Neither side can force the other to settle, to close it, to resolve it. If we want to reach a resolution, it must be completely voluntary.
If everybody is able to reach an agreement, we really have to wait until we can assess the value and the breadth of your injuries – how severely injured are you? Is it going to be long-standing? Is it going to be something that quickly resolves? If we can then put together and assess your injury, and both sides are interested, we can reach a settlement. Again, no case is ever required to settle. Sometimes we can settle them as quick as two or three weeks, and sometimes we may have a case open for 20 years. It’s really dependent on what you desire and what the employer would like to do as well, but everyone has to come to that agreement.
We at Oliver and Fox can help you assess the value of your claim and help you achieve your goal, whether it’s a quick settlement, or protect your career and extend that settlement out as long possible.
How do you determine the value of a workers’ compensation claim for a first responder in Florida?
When we speak to first responders we are often asked, “What’s the value,” or “How much is my claim worth?” Claims have a value based on, first and foremost, how much it’s costing you for your care, treatment, and your lost income. It also has a value based on what those things are costing the employer. The value is then assessed and includes, again, the medical care, lost wages, impairment benefits, medications, therapies, other things and everything that flows through to you, and whether or not you’re taking advantage of it or whether or not it’s been paid.
The amount that you’ve cost the carrier or the employer in the past is not as important, per se, as what they may have to pay in the future, so we have to look at the history, but then extrapolate out and look at what type of future care, treatment, what your ability is to return to work, if there’s work available, what impairment you may have, what restrictions you may have, what impairment rating you may have and whether those benefits have all been paid and whether they have been paid appropriately.
We truly need to have this full evaluation to give you a fair and appropriate value or settlement estimation, so please call us at Olive and Fox. We’d be happy to do this for you and assist you through this stage of your claim.
I have been asked to settle my first responder workers’ compensation claim, what should I do?
At Oliver and Fox, we are often contacted by Florida first responders who have been approached by their employer or the insurance company and asked to settle their case or their claim. This is because many first responders from Florida have long-standing or open claims for several years. You must be very careful when you are approached with this question, as many times the employer or the insurance company is going to request that you resign or retire or separate as part of that settlement. That can have a very negative implication on other benefits that may be available to you.
Settlement is a very good option in certain situations. We definitely recommend that you contact us at Olive and Fox to assist you in this stage of your case and your claim and hopefully maximize the benefits and protect your career as best as possible.
Why should a first responder hire an attorney when medical care is already provided after an accident in Florida?
We often speak to first responders who ask why they should hire an attorney when the medical care is already being provided through workers’ comp. The answer is they may not know what benefits are out there and what they’re eligible for. There may be reimbursement for mileage that they’re not getting; they may be paying for prescriptions that they should not be; there may be impairment benefits that have never been paid or underpaid. It is one of the most common mistakes that are made by adjusters on claims, not intentionally, but they underpay benefits that are available to the first responders in Florida. If you don’t know what’s out there, you don’t know what you’re missing.
As they say, you don’t know what you don’t know. Please call us at Oliver and Fox. We’d be very happy to assist you in evaluating and making sure you’re receiving all the benefits that you’re entitled to.
What happens when a first responder workers’ comp claim is contested by the insurance carrier?
We received a call from a new client indicating that he received a denial in the mail from workers’ compensation. He’s a first responder, he’s not back at work, and he’s receiving medical care and treatment and wants to know what he is supposed to do. A first report of injury was filed, and the insurance company has 120 days to investigate that injury and can accept the injury or deny the case. If the case is denied, the claimant or the employee has the opportunity to contest that in court. In doing so, a petition for benefits must be filed and there must be medical evidence to support the claim or the injury and its relationship to the workplace event.
At Oliver and Fox, if you’ve received a denial, we would be happy to help you investigate whether or not the denial was issued, and whether you’re entitled to additional workers’ compensation benefits, and proceed with those in court. We invite you to contact our office and we can set up a consultation with you to do so.
I don’t want to take time off, how can I continue to work and still file a first responder workers’ comp claim?
We were speaking to a group of first responders, and one of the questions that arose indicated that an individual, while injured, wanted to return to work. In Florida, you can return to work following a work-related injury, but it’s very important that you follow all doctor’s orders and restrictions. If a doctor has specifically taken you out of work, you should not return until cleared by the workers’ compensation doctors so that you can return and resume your duties.
Why should I make a first responder workers’ compensation claim when I am still working, being paid, and have medical care provided?
I’m often asked by injured Florida first responders why they should make a workers’ compensation claim when they’re still working, still being paid by the employer, and they have the medical care being provided to them through their health insurance. The answer is, if you don’t make that proper claim through workers’ compensation and the condition progresses, or you have a worse injury down the road later in your career, you may not be able to make a workers’ compensation claim, as the injury that you’re treating for presently may be deemed to be the major contributing cause and not related to work because you didn’t file a claim.
It’s very important that claims are filed and processed the proper way through the proper means and channels. Please call us at Oliver and Fox. We’d be happy to evaluate your claim and help assess whether you should or should not make a claim.
Should I contact a first responder workers’ compensation lawyer even if I do not lose from work?
We had a client come to us because he was not receiving medical benefits. He reported to us that he did not miss any work, but he was physically injured and required treatment for that injury. It is important, even if you do not miss work in Florida, that you report that injury to your employer, then a first report of injury is filed, and that benefits are provided pursuant to that claim.
If you have questions as to whether or not you need to complete a first report of injury, and if you missed work or did not miss work affects your claim, please call and we can assist you with those questions.
What will workers’ compensation cover for first responders in Florida?
I’m often asked by injured workers what benefits would be provided by workers’ compensation and if it’s worthwhile to file a workers’ comp claim. Workers’ comp provides medical care and lost wages, and then impairment benefits if you do have an injury. What that means is they provide a doctor, a primary care physician, specialist, the testing, anything that you may require until you’re placed at maximum medical improvement and they pay it at 100%. While a doctor has you on light duty or no work, they have to pay part of your income, and that’s temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits. It alleviates the need to use your own sick/vacation time, PTO time. It’s time that and money benefits that the statute that the legislature has granted to you as well as with impairment benefits – they pay you for your injury.
Impairment benefits can be relatively small or significant sums, over six-figures. Also, if you’re unable to return to work and enter the workforce in any capacity, you may be entitled to permanent total disability, which means the employer or the insurance company may need to continue paying you until your age 75. There are many benefits that are available and need to be taken or acted upon while they are right and available, as if you don’t act, the statute of limitations may run and you may not have the ability to make a claim later when you realize how bad your injury actually is.
At Oliver and Fox, we’d be very happy to review this with you, review what benefits are available to you, and if it makes sense for you to file a claim regarding your career and how it may impact it. Please call us for a free evaluation. We’d be happy to speak with you.
What are the benefits for workers’ compensation for first responders in Florida?
We were speaking to a first responder the other day, and he indicated that he believed everything in his claim had been handled appropriately by workers’ compensation. In Florida, first responders who also have workers’ compensation injuries are entitled to benefits. Those benefits include not only medical care and treatment, indemnity, impairment and potentially permanent benefits, but it’s important for first responders to ensure that all those benefits are being provided to them timely as well.
What is temporary partial disability and temporary total disability?
Oftentimes our first responders ask us how they get paid following a workers’ compensation injury. In workers’ compensation there’s several categories of indemnity or monetary benefits. We have broken those down into three specific indemnity benefits – temporary total disability benefits, temporary partial disability benefits, impairment benefits, and a fourth category called permanent total disability benefits.
Temporary total and temporary partial disability benefits are very similar benefits where you’re either temporarily unable to return to duty as a first responder or you’re allowed to return to light duty but are not earning your full wages, which would result in temporary partial disability benefits to make you whole or to make your wages whole.
Impairment benefits are benefits after you’re at maximum medical improvement and a doctor has said that you are as good as you’re going to get as a result of your injury. Workers’ compensation has an impairment guidebook that delineates an impairment rating for each type of injury, and that rating translates into monetary benefits.
Permanent total disability benefits, again, are benefits that are post-MMI, or maximum medical improvement, and are benefits when an injured worker is permanently and totally disabled from returning back to work in any capacity.
What is important to know about impairment benefits relative to first responder workers’ compensation?
I’m often asked by potential clients and first responders whether or not they may have a claim, or whether they settled their claim because they received impairment benefits. Impairment benefits are a statutory benefit that’s provided to you and it does not settle or close out your case, and it is not a restriction in your case. Impairment benefits are based on a rating that a doctor gives you, based on a whole book, and it’s put into a formula and we calculate how many weeks of benefits you receive for having your diagnosis or your injury. It is not a restriction. You can have no restrictions but still receive an impairment rating and receive impairment benefits.
Furthermore, if your employer does not pay your impairment benefits correctly, which happens quite a bit of the time, your statute of limitations may not have run and you may be able to reopen or re-investigate any old claim where your employer is telling you that your statute of limitations may have run or you’re not entitled to benefits. If you would like, please call us at Oliver and Fox and we’d be happy to review your impairment benefits, what have been paid, if they’ve been paid appropriately, and whether or not your case remains open.
If I am injured while on duty, what medical bills are paid for first responders?
Oftentimes we have clients who receive medical bills following a work-related accident. My first responders are often transported to the hospital or to a medical facility, and the hospital bills their group or private health insurance. In Florida, when you’re injured on duty, medical bills are the responsibility of the insurance carriers and should not be billed through your group health insurance. Medical bills related to the injury and those bills that are reasonably and medically necessary for the treatment of your injuries should be paid by the carrier.
If you are receiving bills either through your group health insurance or from a medical provider, we invite you to call our office so that we can make sure that the insurance company is properly billed and represent you on your claim.
How do I pay my bills while I’m seriously injured as a first responder?
We were speaking to a police officer who was shot in the line of duty. That police officer was very concerned about how to maintain his income and salary to provide for his family. In Florida, workers’ compensation provides for indemnity benefits. In addition, your agency for first responders may have additional benefits available to you for catastrophic injuries that prevent you from returning to work. This includes not only workers’ compensation, but potential benefits through pension as well.
Are repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel covered for first responders?
We often find ourselves speaking with first responders in Florida that tell us about repetitive-type injuries that they have and that they haven’t made a claim for. They may not realize that they may be able to make a claim for them. Just like a secretary or phlebotomist or somebody working with their hands may develop carpal tunnel over time, first responders can also develop repetitive-type injuries to their knees, back, or neck.
We recently assisted an officer who developed severe neck pain and herniations in his neck and required a fusion because of the very awkward position in which he had to have his neck and hands while typing in his squad car. These types of cases can be repetitive trauma, just like a firefighter jumping on and off the truck and climbing ladders with 80+ pounds of gear on his back. The wear and tear that you endure and that your bodies endure is not typical of anyone that’s not a first responder, and it may entitle you to additional benefits and to make a claim.
Please call us at Oliver and Fox. We’d be happy to evaluate your specific injuries and help you decide if a claim is in your best interest.
How is presumptive coverage handled to first responders?
We were recently doing a presentation before a local union, and we were asked how presumptions differ from a regular workers’ compensation injury. Presumptions are unique in the law in that it shifts the burden from the injured worker to the carrier. What that means is once you’ve met the elements of the presumption, the burden then falls on the carrier to prove that it’s not work-related.
For example, if an individual has a heart attack and is a first responder, they’re entitled to the heart presumption if they meet the four criteria of the protected class, the protected condition, they have a qualifying pre-employment physical, and they have a disability within a definition of workers’ compensation. If they’ve met those four criteria, those four elements, they’ve proved their case and it then falls upon the employer carrier to rebut that presumption with either competent substantial or clear and convincing evidence of a non-work-related cause.
If you have a presumptive case and would like to discuss your options, please call us at Oliver and Fox and I’ll be happy to explore those options.
If my first responder workers’ comp case is denied, do I qualify for any benefits while my case is being denied?
We were recently speaking to a first responder who explained he had a work-related injury, but the benefits had been denied by the employer and the insurance provider. He asked what he was entitled to in the interim and if there’s an option for him. We explained that we can file a petition and take it to the local judge of compensation claims and hopefully have that denial overturned. Simply because you receive a denial is not the end of your case. It may be the beginning of the litigation side of the case, but benefits may still be available.
When you receive a denial, you may still be able to receive benefits such as unemployment because your employer is saying that the benefits are not work-related. Every case is different, every situation is different, so please call us at Oliver and Fox. We’d be happy to evaluate your case, that denial that you may have received, and whether or not you may be entitled to benefits while we litigate and fight for you.
Can I be fired or lose my first responder benefits if I file a claim?
One of our attorneys was speaking at a union meeting to a group of first responders, and the inquiry came from several members whether or not they could be retaliated against or terminated as a result of filing a workers’ compensation claim. In Florida, if you file a workers’ compensation claim, you cannot be terminated or retaliated against for filing the claim in and of itself. An employer, however, can terminate an employee for cause or for medical inability to return back to work.
If you feel that you have been terminated and that termination is not for cause, or that you have been retaliated against for filing a workers’ compensation claim, we invite you to contact our office so we can discuss your options with you.
What happens if I am unable to return to duty as a first responder?
We were speaking to a client who was injured on the job and was unable to return to full duty as a firefighter. In Florida, in workers’ comp, we can assist with providing temporary benefits, if you’re unable to return to work on a temporary basis, and permanent benefits, if you’re unable to return not only to work as a firefighter but in all work capacities as a result of your injuries.
At Oliver and Fox, we invite you to call so that we can discuss your injuries and your work status in a full consultation to determine what benefits you are entitled.
Is there a cap on my workers’ compensation benefits for first responders?
We are sometimes asked by first responders in Florida whether or not there’s a cap on the benefits that they receive. The short answer is no. They’re entitled to medical care so long as the original work-related injury remains the major contributing cause of their need for care. On the monetary side, there is a cap in the maximum amount that they’re allowed to receive if they’re receiving lost wages on a weekly basis, and that’s set each year and increases slightly each year.
In general, the amount of benefits that you’re entitled to are not limited or capped in that fashion. If you are permanently and totally disabled, you can only collect those benefits until you’re 75 years of age, but, again, the medical care would continue. Every case is a little bit different. There are different circumstances, depending on the year it was filed and the age that you are when your case is filed or when you’re injured, so please call us at Oliver and Fox. We’d be happy to listen to your facts and address how the law may affect what limitations there may be on your case.
Are there any third-party lawsuits available for first responders?
We recently had a client, who was a law enforcement officer and who was injured in a motor vehicle accident. He inquired what benefits were available to him. If a law enforcement officer or first responder is injured in a motor vehicle or third-party action, they may have, in addition to a workers’ compensation claim, a third-party claim against the insured motorist or third-party responsible for the injury.
How this works is workers’ compensation is required to provide medical and indemnity benefits through workers’ compensation, and there may be a separate third-party claim against the insured at-fault individual or entity. If you have questions about whether you have a workers’ comp claim with third-party involvement, please call our office today. We are happy to discuss those options with you.
Can I sue my employer or co-worker for causing my injury or illness as a first responder?
We are often asked by first responders in Florida if they are able to sue an employer or a co-worker for their work-related injury. Usually, the answer is no. There are exceptional circumstances where you may be able to sue or go after an auto policy, for example, or car insurance or a premises liability, if the injury occurred at another location, or if the employer somehow did not properly train you on the equipment or gear to do the job that you’re doing.
Normally, one of the trade-offs for us not having to prove any type of negligence and having benefits flow almost automatically through workers’ comp is the trade-off that we cannot sue the employer in civil court or outside of workers’ comp for any types of penalties and interest. If you’d like a free evaluation, please call us at Oliver and Fox and we’d be happy to take a look for you.
What is the difference between the FRS, 175, and 185 pension plans for first responders?
In Florida, we are often asked by first responders what the difference is between FRS and a 175 or a 185 type of pension plan. In order to be eligible for an FRS type plan, you need to be unable to return to work at all in any type of position. You have to be permanently and totally disabled to be eligible for that benefit. For the 175 or 185 plan, you have to be unable to return to your job as a first responder, so that may be a slightly lower, easier burden to obtain.
Your department has chosen which type of pension plan you are subscribed to or you are eligible for. We can help with both. We cover the entire state, and we’d be very happy to assess whether or not you may be eligible for this pension plan which provides benefits that are tax-free potentially for the rest of your life.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Call Our Florida Workers Compensation Attorneys Today
When you call us looking for help, you are going to be treated with urgency and priority. We don’t want to just get you in and out of the door to finish up with your case as soon as we can. We take the time necessary to help you with the results that you deserve, and sometimes that takes a little bit of time. You are important to us. You are not just a case file to us; you are someone who needs our help. We know that this is a difficult time for you and you need someone to ease the burden for you. We aim to make this entire process smoother for you. We want you to be informed and supported the whole way to justice, but we do the heavy lifting so you can feel relieved.
If you choose to hire us to represent your workers’ compensation case, we are going to treat you like family. We fight for your justice the way we would fight for the justice of our own families. We don’t settle for low ball offers from the insurance companies. We push to get you the results that we believe to be full and know to be fair. Call us today to set up your free consultation.