Archive for October, 2017

Rhode Island Firefighters May Soon Have New Legal Protections for Workers’ Compensation and Disability Pensions

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyFirefighting is a dangerous profession. Many firefighters get injured on the job, which may entitle them to workers’ compensation and disability pensions. In some cases, these are the only financial resources the firefighters, and their families, have. Unfortunately, many injured firefighters have found it difficult to access the resources they need.

The Rhode Island General Assembly recently passed a new bill to ensure that these benefits are protected for these public servants. When a public employee is injured on the job, Rhode Island law protects their right to both workers’ compensation and public disability benefits. It is important to seek legal advice to ensure that all your legal rights are protected.

The New Bill

According to Rhode Island Public Radio, the new bill creates a legal presumption for firefighters who suffer from heart disease. Heart disease is now presumed to be job related if the firefighter has been on the job for at least three years. This removes a significant legal hurdle for firefighters looking to access workers’ compensation and disability benefits. Without this bill, firefighters suffering from heart disease have to present medical records and other evidence to prove that their heart disease was a job related illness. This can be a real challenge, with so many contributing factors to heart disease, it can be difficult to prove that the illness was caused by one’s work.

Now, firefighters seeking workers’ compensation and disability benefits need to only establish that they have heart disease, and that they have been on the job for at least three years.

The bill has been passed by both houses of the Rhode Island General Assembly, and must be signed by the governor before it will become effective law. A spokesman for the governor stated that she would consider the final version of the bill when it is presented to her, but that she has concerns about granting lifetime, tax-free disability pensions, especially in cases where a physician’s opinion might overcome the presumption that the heart disease is related to the firefighter’s job. Other opponents, such as the state General Treasurer, point to the enormous cost of the bill. Taxpayers will bear millions of dollars in costs if the bill is signed into law.

What Firefighters Should Do After Sustaining a Workplace Injury or Illness

The first, and most important, step after any workplace injury is to seek medical attention. Injuries that are not treated tend to get worse. This leads to unnecessary time off work and accumulating medical expenses. Ensure that your injuries are properly tended to, and that you schedule follow-up appointments or consultations with specialists as needed. The same is true for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease. Illnesses that are not treated also tend to get worse. Access appropriate medical treatment for any chronic medical condition.

Once you have seen to your medical needs, consult with an experienced Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. There are many different types of insurance coverage and disability benefits available for workplace injuries or illnesses.

An attorney will help you determine which options are most appropriate for your situation. A lawyer will also be able to help determine whether you can prove that your injuries have, in fact, been caused by your job. It is important to begin this process as soon as possible so that you do not miss important deadlines for filing claims. It is also important to preserve important medical evidence, such as photos of injuries, before the evidence is lost.