What Special Protection is Available to Injured First Responders in Florida?

Most of the cases our Tampa workers’ comp lawyers handle involve clients who work in regular jobs. It’s not every day that we meet with injured first responders.

When we do, it’s usually because they’re suffering from a terrible injury or illness. Here, we’ll explain what protection Florida workers’ compensation law offers to people who risk their lives for public safety.

Firefighters and Members of Law Enforcement Face Unique Dangers

On any given day, you could suffer a workplace accident. It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do. However, there are certain industries that involve a much higher risk of getting injured.

First responders put their lives on the line every day. The odds of them experiencing a work-related injury are high. Unfortunately, many of the cops and firefighters our Tampa injury lawyers have met with have suffered life-threatening injuries and illnesses.

The Inherent Nature of This Type of Work is Extremely Dangerous

Just by the nature of their job, covered workers are at a much higher risk of getting hurt on the job. When one thinks about the work they do, day in and day out, this shouldn’t be surprising.

For example, firefighters put themselves at risk every time they respond to a call. Even a minor fire or chemical explosion can leave them hanging on for dear life. This is why it’s so important that the Florida workers’ compensation system protects them in a special way.

Law Enforcement and Firefighters Are Also Susceptible to High Levels of Stress and Anxiety

In addition to subjecting themselves to physical injury and illnesses, COs, cops, and firefighters also experience a lot of stress and anxiety. If they make even a small mistake at work, it can mean the difference between life and death.

This level of responsibility can be extremely stressful. Most of us will never know just how scary it can be to put another person’s fate in your hands.

Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that injured first responders suffer from stress-related illnesses such as PTSD more often than other workers.

Your Tampa Workers’ Comp Lawyer Is Familiar with Florida’s Heart and Lung Bill

Our Tampa injury lawyers have represented many injured first responders. We are familiar with the protections afforded to them under the Florida Heart and Lung Bill. Depending on the type of injury or illness they’re suffering from, this bill can make a big difference.

If you work in any of the covered positions and are worried about medical bills, it’s nice to know that the State of Florida takes care of you. Your Tampa workers comp lawyer can explain how the bill works and how it may benefit you.

injured first responders

This Bill Covers Heart Issues, Tuberculosis, and Hypertension

The Heart and Lung bill does not apply to all injured first responders. For example, if you fall and injure your knee, it would not be covered under this bill.

The Heart and Lung bill specifically applies to the following:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Any heart condition
  • Tuberculosis

These illnesses are covered is because protected workers are at a much higher risk of developing these conditions. Therefore, the State provides special benefits if a police officer, corrections officer, or firefighter becomes sick as a result of their job.

Your Tampa Injury Lawyer Doesn’t Have to Prove Causation 

The best thing about the Heart and Lung bill is your Tampa workers comp lawyer does not have to prove causation. Typically, if an employee gets hurt on the job, their attorney must provide a direct link between their job and their injury or illness.

When it comes to injured first responders, the presumption is that their medical condition is related to their job. This is beneficial for several reasons, including:

  • You do not have to wait for your Tampa injury lawyer to prove causation before you collect benefits
  • You do not have to risk your claim being denied for causation reasons
  • You can rest assured that your medical care will be covered
  • You know that you will receive financial benefits as well

The peace of mind that comes with this special protection is priceless.

Which Workers Are Covered Under Florida’s Heart and Lung Bill?

Unless you fall into a certain category of worker, you are not eligible for protection under the Florida Heart and Lung bill. Instead, you will need to file for regular workers’ compensation benefits.

This bill was intended to benefit certain professionals. This means that the following groups of workers are covered by this bill:

  • Law enforcement
  • Firefighters
  • Correction Officers

If you do any of these things for a living, you may be entitled to this extra protection.

Your Tampa Injury Lawyer Must Prove You Meet the Criteria for Benefits

In order to take advantage of the benefits offered by the Heart and Lung Bill, your Tampa injury lawyer will have to demonstrate that you meet certain criteria. According to Florida Statute 112.18, the following requirements must be met to be covered by the Heart and Lung Bill:

  • You must belong to the protected class (correctional officers, firefighters, and police officers)
  • You must have a protected condition (tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension)
  • You must have passed a pre-hire physical (to demonstrate that the condition was caused by your job)
  • You must currently be partially or totally disabled

It’s important to point out that you will not be eligible for coverage if you refused to comply with related treatment before.

Your Tampa Injury Lawyer Must Show That You Are Now Partially or Totally Disabled

The hardest part about qualifying for protection under the Heart and Lung bill is showing that you’re disabled. Your Tampa injury lawyer may have to submit proof from your doctor that you are, in fact, disabled.

It is important to remember that your coverage only lasts as long as you are disabled. If you recover to the point where you are no longer disabled, your benefits will end.

You’re Better Off Having an Experienced Tampa Workers’ Comp Lawyer by Your Side

Our Tampa workers comp lawyer may be able to help injured first responders hurt on the job. Depending on the type of illness or injury you’re suffering from, time may be of the essence. Our workers’ compensation lawyers in Tampa can help get you the benefits you deserve.

We recommend that you call our office so we can schedule your free, initial consultation. Sit down with a seasoned Tampa injury lawyer who can answer any questions or concerns you may have.

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