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How to Determine Eligibility for Firefighters’ Workers’ Compensation

If you served as a firefighter, you may not have been aware of the hidden risks of serving your community. Firefighters are exposed to hazardous chemicals that can cause cancer and other serious health conditions. Much of the personal protective equipment (PPE) and flame retardants used by firefighters have been found to contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals,” which studies show cause serious health issues in humans, including several types of cancer. In July 2022, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified firefighting as a Group 1 carcinogen, which may make you eligible for workers’ compensation.

Ohio has enacted laws that allow firefighters and other first responders to receive workers’ compensation benefits when they are exposed to heat, smoke, fumes, and other toxic chemicals in the line of duty and suffer from any cardiovascular, pulmonary, or respiratory disease. If a firefighter who served at least six years of hazardous duty presents evidence that they were exposed to a Group 1 or 2A carcinogen and were later diagnosed with a relevant health condition, it is presumed that the condition is a result of the occupational exposure, and thus, eligibility for a workers’ compensation claim should be considered.

Navigating a legal claim can be confusing. The first step is to determine if you have a workers’ compensation claim. If the following qualifiers are true for you, contact the attorneys at NRS Injury Law to discuss your eligibility:

  • You were diagnosed with a serious or chronic illness such as cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, high cholesterol, decreased fertility, asthma, etc.
  • You were assigned to at least 6 years of hazardous duty as a firefighter prior to your diagnosis.
  • During your service, you were exposed to materials classified as Group 1 or 2A carcinogens such as turnout gear/PPE and firefighting foam. Exposure can include contact with your skin, ingestion, and inhalation.
  • You are under the age of 70.
  • It has been 15 years or less since you were last assigned to hazardous duty as a firefighter.
  • Your illness has left you unable to work, has resulted in lost wages, or if you are filing on behalf of a loved one, resulted in their death.

If you are an active firefighter concerned about PFAS exposure and its potential impact on your health, there are steps you can take today to prepare for any future workers’ compensation claims:

  • If you are exposed to a Group 1 or 2A carcinogen, document the incident. This information could help in a workers’ compensation claim in the unfortunate case that you are diagnosed with cancer or any other illness.
  • Keep any documentation or materials with information about the equipment you use in the line of duty. Firefighters have been told that their equipment did not contain PFAS, misleading them to believe that they had no increased risk of cancer. Manufacturers not only neglected to properly study the health effects of these chemicals, but they also ignored and hid evidence of the harmful effects of PFAS for decades.

NRS Injury Law is the largest workers’ compensation firm in Ohio and we are here to help you understand your legal options. Let’s start this journey together. Fill out this online form or call 855-GOT-HURT to schedule a free consultation. We will review the details of your case and help you determine if you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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