First responders are almost always the first to arrive on the scene of an emergency. Firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and others put their lives on the line every day without giving it a second thought. While they work to save others who have been in various accidents, they could be putting their own wellbeing at risk. When a first responder is injured in Maryland, they have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim.
In addition to the traditional workers’ comp benefits, first responders are entitled to enhanced benefits because of the work they do. In order to maximize your compensation as an injured first responder, it’s important to work with an experienced law firm. At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, we’re prepared to ensure you have access to the benefits you need to recover, so you can return to do what you do best—saving lives.
First Responder Accidents and Injuries
While any employee could get injured at work, first responders face unique hazards when they’re out helping with an emergency. Some of the most common injuries include burns, smoke inhalation, herniated discs, bloodborne illnesses, head injuries, gunshot wounds, and hearing loss.
There are a number of situations that result in injury. For example, it’s not uncommon for a police officer or other law enforcement official to get attacked or assaulted while working. Car accidents are another common cause of injuries. If a first responder is assisting with a crash, they could be struck by another vehicle.
There’s also the risk of chemical exposure. Natural disasters, chemical spills, and other incidents often result in exposure to dangerous poisons or toxins.
Another issue first responders face is overexertion. The physical demands required to assist at the scene of an accident are often challenging. A firefighter, for example, is at risk for overexertion if they’re helping remove people from a burning building.
In addition to the physical injuries, mental and emotional trauma are real consequences of being a first responder. Witnessing traumatic events can take a toll on a person’s psyche. It’s not uncommon to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health conditions.
Understanding First Responder Benefits
First responders are entitled to the same workers’ compensation benefits as other eligible employees in Maryland. This includes a monetary award for medical care, lost wages, vocational rehabilitation, and disability. The disability benefits include temporary total disability (TTD), temporary partial disability (TPD), permanent total disability (PTD), and permanent partial disability (PPD). Death benefits are also available, so the surviving dependents can cover funeral expenses.
Working with a lawyer is the best way to ensure you have access to the benefits you need and deserve. We understand that workers are often hesitant to file a claim, however; injury and stress are a common part of the job for first responders. The benefits exist to ensure those individuals have what they need to recover and get back to helping people as quickly as possible.
Special Provisions for Public Safety Employees
In Maryland, first responders are entitled to enhanced provisions. This is because of the stressful and dangerous nature of the job. Under Maryland Statute §9–503, first responders are also entitled to compensation for hypertension, cancer, and Lyme disease.
Correctional officers, paramedics, and police officers are too frequently diagnosed with high blood pressure and heart disease. Because stress is often a factor, they can seek additional benefits which can cover heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, and coronary artery disease.
When exposed to toxins in the line of duty, firefighters and EMTs are at risk of developing cancers. The most common diagnoses include throat cancer, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Under certain conditions, law enforcement officers with the Department of Natural Resources are eligible for benefits for Lyme disease because it can be considered an occupational hazard. Patients with Lyme disease often feel achy and stiff and experience swollen joints. While this disease can be treated early on, the longer a person goes without treatment, the more likely it is that it will affect them for the rest of their life. Because of its varying symptoms, the condition is often diagnosed past the time treatment would have been effective.
To understand fully what you’re entitled to, our workers’ comp attorneys can look at your situation and get an idea of what your options are.
Schedule a Free Consultation in Baltimore
The sooner you file a claim after sustaining an injury on-the-job, the better your chances are of receiving the compensation you need to recover. If you’re ready to file a claim, contact our office today. We’ll evaluate your situation and provide you with a legal opinion on how best to proceed.