Jackson & New Orleans First Responders Lawyer
Firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians put their lives at risk every day to save the lives of others, often responding to crisis situations involving crimes of violence, natural disasters and gruesome accidents. First responders can suffer on-the-job injuries like any other workers, including fractures, back, neck and spine injuries, and shoulder and knee injuries from their physically demanding jobs. Additionally, first responders are susceptible to a range of other workplace injuries and occupational diseases unique to their positions. These infirmities include hypertension, posttraumatic stress, Hepatitis, hearing loss and cancer. Workers’ compensation carriers don’t always want to acknowledge these claims, despite special laws written to ensure these essential workers get the medical care and compensation they need when injured doing their vital jobs. The workers’ compensation lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe PLLC are well-versed in first responder workers’ comp claims in Mississippi and Louisiana. We know the law, and we have the skills, stamina and resources to take on the largest workers’ comp carriers and make sure you get the benefits you need and deserve.
Nearly three-quarters of emergency first responders suffer from prehypertension or hypertension (high blood pressure), according to the American Journal of Hypertension. Hypertension puts the worker at risk of a number of serious medical conditions, including heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Working long and unusual hours punctuated by unpredictable periods of intense, stressful situations and crises is a formula for chronic, negative stress and the cascade of health issues that flow from it.
The Fireman’s Heart and Lung Act in Louisiana explicitly states that any heart or lung disease that develops during a period of employment in the fire service is connected with employment, and the employee is entitled to all rights and benefits of a worker suffering an occupational disease. The Louisiana statute and Mississippi case law both make clear that one does not need to have a heart attack on the job to receive benefits for a cardiovascular condition.
Similarly, Louisiana workers’ compensation law requires that any workers’ comp policy that covers a volunteer firefighter must include coverage for posttraumatic stress injury. A firefighter who is diagnosed with posttraumatic stress injury during a period of voluntary service or later is presumed to have contracted the injury in connection with volunteer service. Such workers are entitled to benefits for posttraumatic stress the same as any other occupational disease. Police officers and emergency medical services personnel are covered as well.
First responders can be exposed to the blood or saliva of accident victims or crime victims in the performance of their duties. Despite precautions, contact with these bodily fluids can transmit disease. A firefighter or police officer who contracts Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C after being on the job for two or more years is presumed to have acquired the disease in connection with service on the job.
For a firefighter with ten or more years on the job who develops cancer, the cancer is classified as an occupational disease under Louisiana law. The law recognizes that firefighters are exposed to heat, smoke, fumes, carcinogens, poisons, toxins, and chemicals as part of their job, and the link between toxic exposure and cancer is strong enough to establish a presumption that a firefighter’s cancer is job-related.
A firefighter who suffers hearing loss that is ten percent greater than the comparable age group in the general population is entitled to a hearing aid and other benefits if the hearing loss manifests after five years on the job.
First responders need legal help meeting the challenges of a workers’ compensation claim
Although the law creates a presumption that these conditions are job-related and therefore compensable by workers’ compensation, this presumption can be rebutted by evidence presented by the employer or its insurer. This puts the worker back to square one in trying to get benefits for serious illnesses, diseases and disabilities, some of which are life-threatening. You need the help of experienced Mississippi and Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyers who are dedicated to helping firefighters and first responders who have suffered an injury on the job.
Help is Available for First Responder Workers’ Comp Claims
Hypertension can cause sudden death if it is not treated. Fortunately, medications and other treatments can often control hypertension. Don’t delay seeking medical care for any serious illness or occupational disease. You put your life on the line for the safety of others, and the workers’ compensation lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe PLLC want to make sure you get the benefits you are entitled to for work-related injuries and illnesses. Call 601-300-6000 in Jackson or 504-888-2222 in New Orleans for a free consultation on your potential claim.