Workers’ Comp for Firefighters
Firefighters who are injured on-the-job in California are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, just like any other injured worker. These benefits include payments for medical bills, partial lost wages, temporary and permanent disability benefits, and death benefits if the worker’s injuries prove fatal. Since firefighting is a particularly dangerous occupation with known risks, the workers’ compensation rules that apply to California firefighters are often tailored to these risks and the special needs firefighters have when an injury occurs.
Who Qualifies for Firefighter Workers’ Compensation in Los Angeles?
Under California law, a firefighter may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits even if he or she is an apprentice or a volunteer. Part-time and full-time employees are also entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ compensation covers both injuries suffered while actively fighting a fire and injuries suffered during other on-the-job activities, like maintenance of equipment, office duties, or training exercises. It also covers illnesses caused by work conditions, such as cancer caused by exposure to carcinogens in burning structures or bloodborne diseases contracted while giving first aid to accident or fire victims.
What Injuries Are Covered?
A wide range of on-the-job injuries and illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation for firefighters. One-time injuries such as burns, broken bones, or other harm suffered on the job are covered. So are injuries that accumulate over time, such as repetitive stress injuries from using tools. Finally, illnesses that result from work, like cancers caused by breathing smoke or other fumes over many years, may also be covered by workers’ compensation benefits.
California’s workers’ compensation laws for firefighters and police officers include coverage for conditions like hernia, heart conditions, tuberculosis, and pneumonia, which are assumed to be caused by the employee’s work during the employment and for up to 60 days immediately after employment ends. These conditions may not be covered, however, for fire department employees who are not directly involved in firefighting or other active-duty tasks.
Occupational Safety and Health
Since most firefighters are public employees, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) may not apply to occupational safety and health hazards in the workplace. However, firefighters are still protected by California’s state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA).
Fire departments have a responsibility to follow Cal/OSHA safety regulations in order to protect their employees, volunteers, and apprentices from known risks. Firefighters who see safety violations at work have the right to report these anonymously to Cal/OSHA and to be free of firing or other discriminatory acts by their employers for making these reports.
Helping Firefighters Obtain Rightful Benefits
Firefighters take on the dangers of fighting fires and protecting the public in order to save lives, reduce the number and severity of serious injuries, and to protect both public and private property from damage. Knowledgeable southern California firefighters workers’ compensation attorney Kenton Koszdin has dedicated his legal resources and practical experience to helping injured firefighters and their families get the benefits they need when an injury or illness occurs. To learn more about your legal rights and options, call the Kenton Koszdin Law Office at (800) 438-7734 for a free, confidential consultation. You’ve risked your life for others, the least we can do is help you obtain the benefits that you deserve.