Orlando Personal Injury Lawyer

The Francis Law Group

Workers’ Compensation for First Responders in Orlando

First responders willingly place their lives on the line every day in order to protect us. By the nature of these dangerous occupations, they run a higher risk of being hurt. And like other employees, they are entitled to compensation if they suffer an injury. Current state laws affect workers’ compensation for first responders (police, fire, EMT) in Orlando who suffer a work-related injury.

Here is what you need to know.

The Basics of Workers’ Compensation for First Responders

As defined by Florida Statute §112.1815, first responders are individuals employed by state or local government and can include:

  • Law enforcement officers
  • Firefighters
  • Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics

Work injuries to first responders often present different challenges than injuries experienced by private sector workers, even if the process of filing a claim is generally the same. Insurance companies that cover first responders can, in some cases, unfairly deny legitimate claims. They commonly base such denials on the claimant’s inability to prove that the injury is job-related. 

So even if a job is inherently dangerous, first responders must still establish the cause of their injuries and prove they are work-related. This is true of other injured employees too, though the details might be different. For example, how can a retail sales person who is a smoker link his lung disease with his job? But lung disease is a real risk for fire fighters due to the environmental dangers associated with the profession. And there are laws in place that presume certain conditions are work-related.

Legislation on Behalf of First Responders

The Florida Legislature has passed and amended laws to clearly define the manner in which first responders can receive compensation for certain job-related injuries. For example, F.S. §112.181 outlines how first responders could qualify for compensation if they suffer certain communicable diseases in the line of duty. The law presumes the individual suffered the infection – hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, or tuberculosis – in the line of duty unless evidence shows otherwise.

And F.S. §112.18 outlines how first responders could qualify for compensation if they suffer hypertension, heart disease, and tuberculosis caused by their work; this is called the Heart/Lung Law. Like F.S. §112.181, it presumes the condition is work-related, unless certain conditions apply. For example, the presumption is lost if the first responder:

  • Received compensation previously for TB, heart disease, or hypertension under this law.
  • Did not undergo a pre-employment physical that showed you did not already have the condition in question.
  • Does not file the claim within 180 days after leaving employment.

Mitigating Factors Which Can Affect Your Claim

Like all workers’ compensation cases, first responder claims are not necessarily open-and-shut.  There are a number of factors that may jeopardize your eligibility for benefits.

  • You must meet the time limit to file a claim, which is generally two years from the date of injury. But you may have to file notice or file your claim sooner in order to protect your claim or presumption that your injury is work-related, as noted above.
  • You must strictly adhere to the “prescribed course of treatment” for the injury, disease, or diseases claimed and provide physician's medical records that you did adhere to these standards.

And much more. Take your case to a lawyer to make sure you follow all required procedures and to avoid jeopardizing your case.

Third-Party Claims for First Responders Hurt in the Line of Duty

In some cases, you may file a claim outside of workers’ compensation.  For example, if you are a police officer and were struck by another motorist while working a traffic accident scene, your attorney may file a claim against that driver’s insurance company; though the amount of that compensation will be applied against the worker’s compensation award.

The Francis Law Group helps Orlando workers – including first responders – with workers’ compensation cases and the complications that might arise from them. Give us a call at 888-327-2745 or contact us online for help.