Representing First Responders
When an emergency hits, first responders risk their own health and safety to help other people. Firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and other first responders are real life heroes. When they are injured responding to an accident or disaster, it is imperative they get proper medical care and financial benefits.
At The Walthew Law Firm, we have represented injured workers in Washington for more than 80 years. Our Seattle workers’ compensation attorneys are committed to providing reliable and effective legal advocacy to first responders and their families. For a free, no obligation initial consultation with a top-rated workers’ comp lawyer, please call our office or reach out to us directly online.
First Responders Face Risks in the Workplace — Most Common Injuries
Firefighters, police officers, and paramedics face heightened risks in the workplace. First responders frequently expose themselves to traumatic situations. At The Walthew Law Firm, our Seattle workers’ comp lawyers handle the full range of work injury claims. Some of the common hazards facing first responders include:
- Muscle Strains/Overexertion: Muscle strains are the most common work injuries reported by first responders. Firefighters, EMTs, and other first responders often lift heavy things or otherwise put strain on their body.
- Slips and Falling Accidents: Slips, trips, and falls can cause devastating injuries. Whether from height or on a slippery floor, a fall can keep a first responder off the job for an extended period of time.
- Motor Vehicle Collisions: Due to the very nature of their occupation, first responders often rush to an emergency. The quick response raises the risk of a work-related motor vehicle accident. Employees injured in a crash while responding to an emergency are covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
- Smoke Inhalation/Chemical Exposure: Emergency first responders may respond to a fire or another emergency where toxic chemicals are present. Toxic exposures can cause immediate physical problems or result in serious occupational diseases.
- COVID-19 Exposure: Disproportionately, first responders have served during the COVID-19 pandemic. A first responder who has been exposed to the virus is protected by our state’s workers’ comp laws. To learn more about filing a COVID-19 workers’ compensation claim, call us now.
First Responders and Workers’ Comp Claims in Washington
First responders should report a work-related injury or toxic exposure as soon as possible. Workers should notify their employer (typically through a supervisor) as soon as possible and see a physician of their choice for treatment. From there, workers’ comp paperwork should be submitted within one year of the incident either through their self-insured employer or at their doctor’s office. Through an accepted work injury claim, compensation may be available for:
- All proper and necessary medical treatment;
- Wage replacement;
- Vocational rehabilitation (job retraining); and
- Permanent disability or impairment.
Notably, Washington enacted laws and regulations that help first responders access benefits. As an example, RCW 51.32.185 presumes that certain diseases are connected to the occupations of firefighters and fire investigators. Additionally, state legislators in Washington recently passed a law allowing PTSD as an occupational disease for firefighters and law enforcement officers.
Unfortunately, many first responders still have trouble getting their full and fair workers’ compensation benefits. If you or someone in your family is a first responder and your claim was denied, you must take immediate action to protect your rights. Our Washington workers’ comp lawyer will review your case and help you file a strong, well-supported protest or appeal.