Emergency responders such as firefighters and police officers are among those most likely to encounter situations in the workplace that result in injury. Many of these injuries can result in a workers’ compensation claim, which ensures that responders receive compensation for their injuries. Most injuries that afflict emergency responders do not actually happen at the scene of a fire or when encountering a dangerous suspect. Any injury that occurs in the line of duty, so long as there is no intoxication or intent to be injured, is covered by workers’ compensation, though some are more common than others.
For emergency responders, especially firefighters, muscle damage such as tears, sprains, and strains are among the most common injuries covered by workers’ compensation. These types of injuries can occur due to carrying or moving something heavy, or jumping from one location to another. Slipping on water or ice during winter in New York causes many injuries, including muscle strains due to a fall or simply as a reaction to suddenly slipping.
Due to the environment many firefighters work in, exposure to dangerous chemicals or other elements is unfortunately common. This can include buildings materials like asbestos or radioactive materials. Such exposure is quite dangerous and can have unseen affects, which have just as much financial impact as any other injury.
Exposure to infectious diseases can be fairly common for emergency responders. While exposure to a disease might not seem like an “injury,” it is just as serious as damage to a muscle or bone. Some infectious diseases can be life-threatening or require long-term treatment. It is extremely important to establish that infection occurred due to contact while on the job, so any time an emergency responder is concerned about a possible infection, it is vital to seek medical attention immediately to establish when exposure occurred.
Dramatic television shows and movies might make it seem like injuries from fire and dangerous individuals would be common for firefighters and police officers, but this is untrue. Flaming wreckage is certainly dangerous, but burns and other injuries from contact with the scene of a fire are quite low among firefighter injuries. Similarly, police officers are much more likely to require workers’ compensation for pulled muscles, than for injuries that occurred as a result of an aggressive assailant.
Any time an emergency responder is injured in the line of duty, it is very important to see a medical professional immediately. New York workers’ compensation requires a doctor’s examination within 48 hours of an injury to qualify for coverage, and paperwork needs to be filed within a few days to expedite the process. Receiving workers’ compensation can be complicated, so call us at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP at (212) 986-7353 to ensure you or a loved one receive the compensation you deserve.