Experienced Maryland Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Protecting First Responders’ Rights to Benefits
Assisting police officers, firefighters, and EMTs after they’re injured on the job
Almost always the first to arrive on the scene of an emergency or accident, first responders—firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics—put their lives on the line without hesitation. While working to save the lives of others, these people often put their own lives at risk. Thousands of first responders are injured on the job across the nation, some fatally, each year. And some of our country’s finest are right here in Maryland.
It’s important to seek the assistance of a qualified Maryland workers’ compensation attorney if you’re a first responder injured on the job. Not only do you want to ensure you obtain maximum benefits, but you may also be entitled to enhanced benefits due to your emergency responder status. Talk to the experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Plaxen & Adler, P.A. today to find out how we can help you file a claim.
Maryland first responder accidents and injuries
All Maryland workers can get injured on the job. However, first responders face many unique hazards in their particular workplaces, some of which can lead to serious accidents, injuries, or death. Some common first responder injuries include:
- Assaults. Especially among police officers and law enforcement, physical attacks are common. More than 57,000 police officers were physically assaulted in the line of duty in the United States in 2016.
- Car accidents. A 2014 study from FEMA showed that firefighters and police officers were more likely to die in a vehicle accident responding to incidents than in a fire or from gunshot wounds, respectively.
- Exposure to chemicals and toxins. When responding to accidents like natural disasters, chemical spills, factory accidents, or other incidents, first responders can sometimes be exposed to dangerous toxins and poisons.
- Overexertion injuries. First responder duties can be extremely physically demanding. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2016, 42% of all firefighter deaths were from overexertion, stress, and medical reasons.
- Mental and emotional trauma. Law enforcement, EMTs, and firefighters who witness traumatic accidents and events may suffer from PTSD or mental health issues as a result.
When hurt in the line of duty, first responders look to their employer (typically their department or municipality) to deal with their workers’ compensation claim fairly. You want to trust that your employer will take care of you and make sure that you receive the all the benefits available for your injuries and losses. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. The decision about how many benefits you get—if any at all—comes from an insurance adjuster whose first priority is saving money for your employer.
Additional injuries sustained by EMTs, police, corrections officers and fire fighters
A first responder who is in a car crash or falls down a broken set of stairs will likely sustain the same injuries as the average civilian. However, because of the nature of their work, they are prone to serious injuries that many civilians avoid in their day-to-day working environments, including:
- Smoke and ash inhalation
- Back injuries and slipped/herniated discs
- Needle sticks and bloodborne illnesses
- Traumatic brain injuries or head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Gunshot wounds
- Stab wounds
- Hearing loss
In particular, we hear more and more stories of first responders being exposed to deadly amounts of fentanyl, leading to accidental overdoses. The problem is severe enough that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued a guide to help responders minimize their risks.
What benefits are available?
Firefighters, paramedics, law enforcement, correctional officers and other public safety employees are eligible to get similar workers’ compensation benefits as everyone else. These benefits include things like medical care, vocational rehabilitation, lost wages, or permanent disability.
Additionally, death benefits are available for surviving dependents to cover funeral expenses. Your workers’ compensation lawyer can explain these benefits to you in more detail. As a first responder, however, you are entitled to more benefits than your civilian counterparts.
Enhanced provisions for first responders
Depending on your job as a first responder, you may be entitled to enhanced provisions. Sheriffs, corrections officers, and law enforcement officers are all entitled to higher compensation rates, as are firefighters and paramedics.
First responders also have coverage for some additional conditions, due to their stressful and dangerous jobs, under Maryland Statute §9–503.
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension). First responders like police officers, correctional officers, firefighters, and paramedics diagnosed with high blood pressure or heart disease are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. This includes heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, and coronary artery disease.
- Cancers. Firefighters and EMTs/paramedics may also be entitled to workers’ compensation for certain cancers as a result of exposures to toxins in the line of duty, including leukemia or prostate, rectal, throat, multiple myeloma, non–Hodgkin’s lymphoma, brain, testicular, or breast cancer.
- Lyme Disease. Under certain conditions, law enforcement employees of the Department of Natural Resources who contract Lyme disease are also eligible for benefits, as it can be considered an occupational disease.
When you’re injured on the job, even though it might be your first instinct, there’s no reason to take a “tough it out” mentality. Workers’ compensation benefits are meant to protect you and take care of you when you need them after putting your life on the line to take care of others.
At Plaxen & Adler, P.A., we understand how workers’ compensation benefits work and want to ensure that you get all of the benefits that should be coming to you. If you’re a first responder being denied your benefits, or just need to understand more about how to file for workers’ compensation, we can help.
If you’re an injured first responder, our Maryland workers’ compensation lawyers can help
As a first responder, you are eligible for extra and enhanced workers’ compensation benefits if you’re injured on the job. The lawyers at Plaxen & Adler, P.A. have worked for decades helping people like you obtain the benefits to which they’re entitled. We have offices in Baltimore, Columbia and in eight other locations throughout the state. To learn more, or to schedule a free consultation, please call 410-988-4449 or fill out our contact form.