Firefighters are some of the most important public servants we have. They run towards the danger from which others run away with the intent to protect, save, and eliminate the danger. However, their heroics are not without risk, as they are exposed to some of the most dangerous substances and circumstances of any job,which all carry a high risk of injury or death.
A firefighter can be injured on the job in many possible ways beyond just exposure to flames and smoke.Injuries can result from stress on the body, faulty equipment, and exposure to many other dangerous environments, chemicals, and hazards. If you or a loved one are injured as a result of performing firefighting duties, you may be entitled to compensation. Barry Law Group specializes in handling cases involving these types of injuries to firefighters in the Encino area, and our team is ready to speak to you for a free consultation regarding the specific details of your case and the compensation to which you are entitled.
The stress and danger that comes with firefighting are well known. More than half of the injuries caused to firefighters are not the direct result of fire but from overexertion, stress, and medical issues. Other causes of injury include:
These and other hazards can cause mild to fatal injuries. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, in 2020, there were almost 65,000 firefighter injuries that happened while on the job.This is an increase from the year before. Adding to those injuries, there were almost 21,000 cases of exposure to infectious diseases and over 17,000 cases of exposure to hazardous conditions.
Because of the nature of the job, firefighters are exposed to harmful smoke and chemicals to which they would not otherwise be exposed. Various medical conditions are connected to the hazards associated with firefighting. These medical conditions include:
If a firefighter is diagnosed with one of the above conditions and can prove a link between the condition and exposure to a carcinogen as a result of their work, then the condition may be covered by workers’ compensation benefits.
In cases of personal injury that results from negligence on the part of a property owner, a person has the legal right to sue that property owner. Firefighters are prevented from suing a property owner if they are injured during the course of performing their duties in a place where the owner’s negligence contributed to or caused the fire that they are there to fight. Because firefighters assume the risk that is associated with their job, they are knowingly entering danger to perform that job. Recognizing the unfairness of the rule, California lawmakers have enacted laws that allow for exceptions. Firefighters are allowed to bring civil suits if any of the following are true:
The complications associated with this rule should be discussed with an expert personal injury lawyer who can help determine if the rule applies to your firefighting-related injury.
Firefighters rely on an array of equipment to help them perform their duties. Whether it is the vehicle used to get them to and from the fire, the suit designed to prevent burns and other fire-related injuries, the helmet, the breathing apparatuses, hoses, or a slew of other equipment, there are many opportunities for this equipment to fail. Firefighters perform regular checks on their equipment, but that doesn’t mean that manufacturing defects or production corner cutting that can lead to greater problems aren’t present.
In California alone, deaths and medical conditions of firefighters have been traced to faulty breathing equipment, fire suppressing foam, and personal safety equipment. When new equipment arrives, inspecting the equipment may not reveal manufacturing issues. The equipment is necessary to protect the firefighter in the fire and help eliminate the fire to protect the property. It is important to understand why this equipment fails as it puts firefighters at severe risk of injury or death.
Investigating faulty equipment through an expert attorney can help to reveal manufacturing issues that show negligence on the part of the company. If a company is trying to cut corners to save time and money, doesn’t have the right safety inspection procedures in place, or fails to properly test its equipment, it could be held liable for the injuries or fatalities caused by resulting equipment malfunctions.
Firefighters who are injured while performing their job duties are eligible for workers’ compensation. The benefits typically cover medical expenses accrued from hospitalization, medication, surgeries, and other medical treatments. Because of the nature of the job, this benefit also includes disability indemnity and disability retirement.
In some cases, firefighters may be eligible for up to one year of salary rather than disability benefits since the annual salary calculation is often more than the disability benefit.If a firefighter receives the salary benefit, it is paid for up to a year. After that time, they may be eligible for additional disability if they are still unable to return to work because of their work-related injury.
If the injury sustained on duty results in the death of the firefighter, then the family is eligible to claim death benefits. In addition to the grief of losing a loved one, the loss of income adds further stress experienced by the family.Losing a loved one is never easy, and the loss experienced from the death of a firefighter performing their public service can leave a lasting impact on the family.
Although they are not considered employees because they are volunteering their time to a public agency, volunteer firefighters are still eligible for some workers’ compensation benefits, particularly when injuries impact their ability to perform their day-to-day job. Volunteers may be eligible for lost earnings at their regular employment. If you are a volunteer firefighter who sustains an injury related to firefighting, then it is important that you report the incident to a supervisor as soon as possible.
The Fireman’s Rule states that firefighters are not eligible to sue for any negligence that is a direct cause of the fire they are attempting to fight. Whereas most personal injuries that happen on the property of another allow for civil litigation brought against the property owner, firefighters are not eligible to do so. However, there are special circumstances in which this rule may not apply.
Firefighters most commonly suffer sprains, strains, and muscle pain. Because the nature of the job includes lifting heavy equipment or objects during the course of performing their duty, in addition to the dangers of slips, falls, and overexertion, a firefighter’s body is put to the test on almost every call.
Nearly two out of every five firefighter injuries are the result of strains, sprains, and overexertion. Injuries are most likely to occur in the process of actively responding to an emergency or fighting a fire. However, training and non-fire emergencies also pose threats to injury through exposure to dangerous situations or interference from civilians.
Many elements of firefighting come with great personal risk, but some of the most common problems occur while fighting fires. This is when a firefighter is susceptible to burns and falling objects due to forcible entry and weakened support structures. Other common problems arise from search and rescue efforts and salvage and overhaul activities that could result in slips and falls.
If you are the family member of a firefighter who was fatally injured while performing their duties, let Barry Law Group help you through the difficult road ahead. California allows families of firefighters to also receive benefits in the unfortunate circumstance that they are killed in the line of duty.
If you are a firefighter who was injured on the job, it is important that you contact Barry Law Group to talk about what your next steps should be. Our expertise and experience can help guide you through the laws and policies that are there to protect you. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation or additional compensation if negligence is discovered. Contact our office today to receive a free consultation and to find out how we can help you.
Barry Law Group is comprised of attorneys and longtime staff members who are committed to the success of your legal matter. The firm understands that for most litigation is uncharted worrisome and often terrifying.