Public Safety Workers
Employees who are injured on the job are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. This includes public safety workers, such as police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. As they work to keep their communities safe, these employees do intense physical jobs that often require them to walk into dangerous situations. The unique risks faced by workers in the protective services industry may result in severe injury or illness.
There are many public safety agencies at the local, state, and federal level, all of which face inherent risks in their daily activities. In New Jersey, the public safety category includes:
- Firefighters, paid or volunteer
- Police officers, paid or volunteer
- Members of the Community Emergency Response Team
- Corrections officers at certain facilities
- Medical technicians serving on a first aid or rescue squad
- Nurses or other medical personnel who may be called to interact with the public during a catastrophic incident
Types of Injuries
Some of the common injuries faced by public safety workers include:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Muscle strains and sprains
First responders and other protective services workers are also at risk for long-term conditions, such as:
- Heart disease
- Infectious diseases
- Cancer caused by chemical exposure
- High stress levels
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Police officers regularly put themselves in harm’s way to handle difficult situations. One of the most common causes of injury to police officers is car accidents; officers may be called upon to direct traffic in high-speed areas, respond to car accidents, or make traffic stops on busy highways. Police officers may also have to intervene in violent altercations, or they may be the targets of violence themselves.
Firefighters are also called to help in situations of extreme danger. Burn injuries are not as common as one might think, as firefighters wear protective gear when entering a fire, but there are many other hazards a firefighter may encounter. They are at high risk for smoke inhalation injuries and exposure to hazardous materials. They also frequently deal with back injuries from heavy lifting and carrying equipment. Fires can make a structure unstable, so they may also encounter falling debris or unsupported floors.
Types of Benefits
Injured public safety workers are eligible for multiple types of workers’ compensation benefits, depending on the nature of their injury:
- Medical expenses: All necessary treatment for a work-related injury is covered under workers’ compensation
- Temporary total disability: If an employee is unable to return to work for a certain period, they will receive a percentage of their lost wages for that period
- Permanent partial or total disability: If an employee’s injury will never fully recover, they are eligible for additional benefits, which are calculated based on the location and severity of the injury and the resulting loss of function
- Death benefits: If a public safety worker’s injury is fatal, the family may receive weekly benefit payments and/or coverage for funeral costs
Laws governing workers’ compensation benefits vary by state, but most states have provisions outlining special circumstances for public safety workers. For example, while most employees must establish that their injury occurred in the course of their work duties, public safety workers are presumed to have sustained certain injuries or illnesses at work due to the nature of the job. For example, in New Jersey, volunteer or paid firefighters with at least seven years of active service will receive workers’ compensation benefits if they develop any type of cancer, without having to specify what they were to exposed to and when that resulted in the disease.
When a public safety worker is injured on the job, it is important to consult a workers’ compensation lawyer. There are many factors that determine what benefits an employee is eligible for, and employers and their insurance companies will often try to avoid paying whenever they can.
Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Help Injured Public Safety Workers Receive the Benefits They Deserve
If you or a loved one suffered a work-related injury, call the South Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP. We understand the laws governing benefits for public safety workers, and we are committed to obtaining the maximum benefits to which you are entitled. Conveniently located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we obtain compensation for public safety workers throughout South Jersey, including Camden, Cinnaminson, Delran, Maple Shade, and Pennsauken. Call us today at 856-761-3773 or contact us online for a free consultation.