Fresno Firefighter Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Firefighters risk their lives to protect people, animals, and property. In this state, where fire season lasts much of the year and fires can engulf hundreds of acres, firefighting is an important and necessary career.

Thankfully, the state recognizes the risks of firefighting and provides generous workers’ compensation benefits to firefighters. However, insurance companies do not always make it easy for firefighters to receive their benefits.

If you are a firefighter and you suffered a work-related injury or illness on the job, a local workers’ comp attorney could help. A Fresno firefighter workers’ compensation lawyer could help you file your original claim or handle an appeal if your claim is denied. They will keep fighting for you until you receive the benefits you deserve.

The Basics of Workers’ Compensation for Firefighters

Firefighters, apprentices, and trainees are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits from their first day on the job. This program covers all injuries that occur while the firefighter is on the clock, regardless of the injury’s nature.

For example, a firefighter could receive benefits from injuries sustained in a fall, vehicle accident, an assault, food poisoning, or other event unrelated to putting out fires. If the firefighter was on-duty when the injury occurred or condition developed, workers’ compensation covers it.  There are some cases where a firefighter may not be on the clock, but is training for work or acting in the capacity of a firefighter and may still be able to make a claim.

A firefighter must report the injury or illness to their supervisor as soon as possible and seek medical treatment from an approved provider. A Fresno attorney could help a firefighter make their initial workers’ compensation claim and pursue any further action required with the insurer.

“4850” Workers Compensation Benefits for Firefighters

Employees in other industries get temporary disability benefits through workers’ compensation when they get hurt on the job and cannot work. These temporary disability benefits pay the worker two-thirds of their average weekly salary while they recover from their injuries. If they can return to work and perform part of their job duties, the program pays two-thirds of the difference between the wages the worker is currently earning and their pre-injury wages.

In some cases, when a firefighter suffers a job-related injury and cannot work, California Labor Code §4850 directs Workers’ Compensation to pay their full salary for up to one year. This benefit is commonly called a 4850 benefit. The 4580 benefit is not taxed, so the firefighter’s take-home pay while recovering is higher than their salary.

Anyone whose work duties include active firefighting or fire prevention is eligible to receive 4850 benefits, even if the employee was not actively engaged in firefighting or fire prevention activities when the injury happened. A Fresno attorney could explain how to apply for the 4850 benefit and help a firefighter complete their workers’ comp claim.

What Conditions are Inherently Work-Related?

Firefighters’ working conditions are extremely hazardous. They regularly face transmissible illnesses, dangerous equipment, smoke, toxins, and life-or-death situations.

Since their workplaces are so dangerous, a firefighter who develops specified health conditions can collect Workers’ Compensation benefits without having to prove the disease is work-related. For example, the Workers’ Compensation program in many cases will assume the following conditions resulted from employment as a firefighter:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if the firefighter has at least six months of experience on the job
  • Heart disease and other heart conditions
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood-borne diseases
  • Meningitis

Some cancers could also classify as a presumed, work-related injury. However, the firefighter must prove exposure to a specific carcinogen and show the carcinogen is associated with the type of cancer they developed. A Fresno lawyer could help a firefighter with a cancer diagnosis prove the connection between the disease and their work.

Meanwhile, if the condition is not presumptively work-related, the firefighter must prove the connection between their employment and the illness. For instance, arthritis, back problems, peptic ulcers, and depression are all conditions that could be linked to firefighting but are not presumptively related. Any firefighter experiencing a health condition that could be work-related should explore applying for Worker’s Compensation benefits.

Call a Fresno Firefighter Workers’ Compensation Lawyer About Your Rights

Firefighting is an invaluable public service, and the state’s Worker’s Compensation system recognizes this. The program offers you additional benefits if you get injured while fighting a fire. However, claiming these benefits is not always easy. Therefore, you should trust a Fresno firefighters Workers’ Compensation lawyer to guide you through the claims process. Reach out today to schedule a consultation.