Did you get hurt while on duty as a first responder?
Our Atlanta injury attorneys help secure compensation for firefighters and EMTs.
What would we do without the brave men and women first responders who risk their lives to save others?
Firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics, ambulance drivers and other first responders perform some of the most risky jobs in America. They’re called to scenes of devastation at all hours of the day and night. Life and death struggles are part of their regular job, and some days, they literally fight death to save a life.
But these everyday heroes are people too, and they can get hurt while on the job — both physically and mentally. When this happens, they need workers’ compensation to help themselves heal and deal with the stresses of their jobs.
If you’re injured as a first responder in Georgia, you may be wondering about your legal options and rights. Contact our Atlanta workers’ compensation law firm today to talk about your case and find out if you have a workers’ comp claim.
Don’t take your employer at their word if they say your workplace injury isn’t covered.
Contact us today for your free consultation.
What a first responder should do after a work-related injury
If a firefighter, EMT or other first responder is injured on the job, it’s imperative that he or she immediately report the injury to their superiors and see a doctor for treatment.
It’s important to start documenting the injury and situation as quickly as possible, as some states have time limits on how long you have to file a workers’ compensation claim that starts the moment an injury occurs.
In Georgia, first responders only have 1 year from the date of the injury to file a workers’ compensation claim to help pay for medical expenses, lost wages and disability. Tell your boss about the injury and immediately reach out to a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney to talk about your legal options.
Common types of firefighter & first responder injuries
One of the most prevalent types of injury suffered by firefighters and first responders is one that isn’t visible on the outside: their mental health. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common ailments that impacts those doing tough jobs such as fighting fires, rescuing injured children or saving the life of a pregnant woman after a car accident.
Georgia firefighters recently scored a big win by gaining more workers’ compensation coverage for cancer and cancer-related illnesses developed while performing job-related duties. This ruling is significant since it’s not uncommon for firefighters to inhale dangerous chemicals and smoke, even when using protective gear properly.
First responder & firefighter injury statistics
- Younger EMS (emergency medical services) workers outnumber the old, and more than 40 percent of those workers who sustain an on-the-job injury are between the ages of 18-29. Half of injured EMS personnel have less than 10 years of experience.
- On average, 22,000 career and volunteer EMS personnel visited emergency departments each year for work-related injuries. The rate of injury among career EMS personnel was more than 4 times higher than the rate for all workers.
- Among EMS worker injuries, sprains and strains were the most common injury. Most injuries affected the upper trunk and hands and fingers. The greatest portion of injuries involved overexertion and bodily reactions.
Image courtesy of nfpa.org
- Two-thirds of work-related EMT injuries were reported by male responders, who also represent roughly two-thirds of the EMS workforce.
- Strain, sprain, muscular pain resulted in almost half the major types of injuries received during fireground operations (48%) and more than half during non-fireground activities (56%). The leading cause of fireground injuries was overexertion or strain (29%).
- A total of 58,835 firefighter injuries were reported in the U.S in 2017. Of these, nearly 25,000 were injuries at the fireground.
- In addition to injuries, there were 7,345 documented exposures to infectious diseases (e.g., hepatitis, meningitis, HIV, other) in 2017. There were an estimated 44,530 documented exposures to hazardous conditions (e.g. asbestos, chemicals, fumes, radioactive materials, other) in 2017.
- In 2017, there was an estimated 15,430 collisions involving fire department emergency vehicles responding to or returning from incidents.
Workers’ compensation for injured first responders
One of the first questions injured firefighters and first responders want answered is what will be covered by their employer. Any firefighter injured while battling a fire, undergoing training or maintaining equipment should be eligible for compensation for permanent and temporary disability, partial lost income and medical expenses.
In the tragic event that an injured first responder dies due to a fatal on-the-job incident, workers’ compensation can help their family with funeral costs, death benefits, medical bills and loss of future income.
Georgia employees and laborers injured in a work-related accident are entitled to certain weekly income benefits, whether the injury is temporary or permanent. The maximum payment allowed for temporary total disability (TTD), temporary partial disability (TPD), and permanent partial disability (PPD) injuries varies depending on when the injury occurred.
In most states, PTSD benefits fall under "mental/mental," "mental-only" or "psychological" injuries. While a majority of states allow some form of compensation for mental injuries arising out of a physical injury at work (mental/physical injuries), far fewer states allow workers’ compensation for mental harm, suffering, damage, impairment, or dysfunction resulting from some action or failure to act by some individual. Find out more
Third-party lawsuit for firefighter and EMT injuries
While workers’ compensation claims specifically prevent firefighters and other first responders from suing their employer for work-related injuries, there are times when a third-party lawsuit can be applicable. If a third-party is responsible for the first responder’s injuries, they could be found liable for compensation.
For example, let’s say a firefighter is driving or riding on the fire truck and another driver causes an accident that involves the fire truck, seriously injuring the firefighter.
The third-party driver could be taken to court and found to be at fault, which can lead to further compensation paid by that driver’s insurance company.
It’s worth noting that these types of personal injury lawsuits can mean more compensation outside of and in addition to a workers’ compensation claim, but these cases can be difficult to prove negligence or liability on the part of the third party. These third-parties are often represented by teams of lawyers provided by insurance providers. To beat them, you’ll need a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney with the experience and passion needed to fight on your behalf.
Did you know that workers’ compensation rules vary depending on the state where you were hurt? For more information on workplace injuries and other frequently asked questions about Georgia workers’ compensation and disability benefits, visit our FAQs page.
Our record of winning accident cases in Georgia speaks for itself:
We fight for injured firefighters, EMTs & first responders across Georgia
Georgias’ brave men and women first responders deserve the best coverage available, and they need skilled attorneys to fight for them. Contact us to talk with a skilled work injury attorney about your potential case today, and rest assured we’ll see your case through from start to finish. It’s the least we can do for the brave folks who routinely put their lives on the line to protect our communities.