The Virginia General Assembly has created special provisions regarding the receipt of workers’ compensation benefits by police officers and firefighters.
Workers’ Comp Disease Coverage For VA First Responders
Hypertension & Heart Disease Workers’ Comp Coverage
Hypertension and heart disease are common ailments among first responders. Since the 1970s, the law has provided a presumption that such a disease in a first responder arose from the responder’s work. The presumption shifts the burden of proof to the employer to show that something other than work caused the disease. This presumption makes it easier for a firefighter or police officer to claim workers’ compensation as a result of these diseases. If you or a loved one is a first responder who has been unable to work due to hypertension or heart disease, please do not hesitate to contact HammondTownsend for a free case evaluation.
Cancer Workers’ Comp Coverage
In 1994, the General Assembly expanded the statutory presumption to include “Leukemia or pancreatic, prostate, rectal, or throat cancer” experienced by a volunteer or salaried firefighter. However, the presumption was available only to a firefighter with 12 years of continuous service who could prove contact with a toxic substance known to cause cancer.
In 2020, the General Assembly made significant changes to the cancer presumption. The legislature both reduced the continuous-service requirement to five years and removed the provision requiring proof of contact with a toxic substance. Lawmakers also expanded the presumption to cover colon, brain, and testicular cancer. If you or a loved one is a first responder who has been diagnosed with one of these cancers, please do not hesitate to call HammondTownsend to schedule a free case evaluation.
COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Coverage
In 2021 a provision was added that made it easier for a limited class of employees (including: firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, and law-enforcement officers) who contracted COVID-19 to receive workers’ compensation benefits. There are several challenges in providing evidence to gain the legal presumption so legal counsel is recommended. These new provisions became effective on July 1, 2021 are retroactive from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, and extend through December 30, 2021. Read more about COVID-19 and workers’ comp legislation.
If you are a first responder who contracted COVID-19, don’t delay in filing your claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. There is a 2-year statute of limitations in order to file workers’ compensation. Act now before your timeline expires. To ensure you receive the benefits you deserve to the fullest, contact HammondTownsend for a free case evaluation.
Workers’ Comp PTSD Coverage For VA First Responders
In 2020 the Virginia General Assembly passed an entirely new statute entitled “Post-traumatic stress disorder [“PTSD”] incurred by law-enforcement officers and firefighters.”
The statute enacted in 2020 is helpful to a first responder who develops PTSD from an incident in which the responder did not suffer a physical injury. The statute eliminates the need to show that the incident was unexpected. An award for PTSD is now possible if the responder shows the existence of a “qualifying event,” namely, an incident “1. Resulting in serious bodily injury or death to any person or persons; 2. Involving a minor who has been injured, killed, abused, or exploited; 3. Involving an immediate threat to life of the claimant or another individual; 4. Involving mass casualties; or 5. Responding to crime scenes for investigation.”
A hurdle with the new statute is that, by its terms, (i) it applies to all PTSD awards, i.e., even those that arise from an incident in which the first responder suffers a physical injury, and (ii) it limits medical benefits for PTSD to 52 weeks — without exception.
If you or a loved one is a first responder who has been diagnosed with PTSD, please do not hesitate to call HammondTownsend to schedule a free case evaluation.
HammondTownsend is a Virginia workers’ compensation law firm with offices located around the Commonwealth. If you or a loved one is a first responder and has been injured on the job or suffered one of the aforementioned work-related diseases or disorders, please do not hesitate to contact HammondTownsend for a free evaluation. We can help you with the workers’ compensation process from start to finish.