Firefighters are Entitled to Minnesota Workers Compensation for Injuries Suffered in the Line of Duty
Minnesota Firefighters | Workers Compensation Attorneys
Minnesota firefighters face all kinds of different challenges – there are unpredictable environmental factors like floods and storms, there are road traffic collisions and unforeseen events like oil spills, etc. Firefighters’ work life and training also have to be geared to responding to emergency calls, regardless of weather conditions or the time of day. Every time firefighters are called to the scene of an emergency they must be prepared for anything. Because of the risks and hazards, they are exposed to there is a likelihood that they may have a work-related injury. It is important to understand what benefits may be available. A Minnesota workers compensation attorney is best suited to go over your workers’ compensation benefits.
What are some of the risks firefighters may be exposed?
Firefighters expose themselves to unpredictable conditions and environments. Love to know.com reported the following potential hazards for firefighters:
Accident hazards are ones that are common for any firefighter during the course of duty. These include:
- Inhalation of superheated air
- Falling from heights due to collapsing buildings
- Interruption of a fresh air supply during rescue operations
- Injuries due to explosions
- Injuries from glass, metal, wood or liquids during a rescue
Physical hazards are hard to prevent during the course of a rescue. The right protective equipment can help protect a firefighter, but some physical hazards are hard to eliminate or predict.
- Flashovers or injuries from back drafts
- Exposure to loud noises
- Exposure to cold during the winter or in maritime rescues
Firefighters are exposed to chemical hazards when there are chemical spills on the roadways, when trains derail or even when a factory catches on fire. Common chemical firefighter hazards they face include the following:
- Inadequate fresh air to breathe
- Exposure to chemicals during a rescue
- Inhalation of chemical vapors
- Exposure to large quantities of carbon monoxide
The British Journal of Industrial Medicine found that exposure of various chemicals and fumes can lead to cardiovascular, respiratory, or neoplastic diseases.
While less common in the course of a firefighter’s duty, they are trained to deal with biological hazards. A biological hazard includes exposure to communicable diseases and rescue work in the event of a dirty bomb explosion.
Ergonomic and Psychosocial Hazards
Working as a Minnesota firefighter can cause stress, even in a seasoned veteran. Typical emotional problems include Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and depression. Ergonomic firefighter hazards are related to overexertion of muscles during the course of duty. This can be related to moving heavy objects during a rescue or by wearing protective equipment, which can be very heavy.
Work-Related Heart Attacks are Compensable Work Injuries
Studies have shown that 45% of on-duty firefighters deaths are caused by cardiovascular injuries. Sadly on March 20, WCCO reported that a Mapleton firefighter died following a heart attack after responding to emergency calls. The firefighter was 58 years old. Firefighters who suffer work-related heart attacks may be entitled to workers compensation benefits. The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act provides as follows:
If immediately preceding the date of disablement or death, an employee was employed on active duty with an organized fire or police department of any municipality, ….and the disease is that of myocarditis, coronary sclerosis, pneumonia or its sequel, …, the disease is presumptively an occupational disease and shall be presumed to have been due to the nature of employment.
Essentially, what it means is that there’s a “rebuttable presumption” that the job duties contributed to the diseases/conditions. The insurance company can try to prove that the job had nothing to do with it. They may have a difficult time without expert opinions showing that the work activities had nothing to do with it.
Firefighters who sustain work related injuries are entitled to benefits whether they are back injuries, chemical exposure or even heart attacks. It’s important for Minnesota firefighters to understand their rights under Minnesota workers compensation. Jerry Sisk is a Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney that understands Minnesota workers’ compensation law and can help you through the process. Call or text MN Work Injury attorney Jerry Sisk today.