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NYC Attorneys Offer Advice on Volunteer Firefighter Injuries

Helping when workers’ compensation is not enough

According to a study from the National Fire Protection Association, volunteer firefighters are more likely to sustain injuries at fireground than paid, professional firefighters. In New York State, volunteer firefighters come under the state’s workers’ compensation program, so they receive medical benefits and disability payments for work-related injuries. Unfortunately, disability payments under workers’ compensation invariably lead to a loss of income over the life of the claimant. At Barasch & McGarry, we help injured volunteer firefighters pursue alternate legal paths, such as a third-party negligence lawsuit, to obtain full and fair compensation.

Workers’ compensation covers line of duty injuries

Common injuries for volunteer firefighters include strain, sprains and muscular pain; wounds, cuts and bruises; frostbite and heat stroke; and smoke or gas inhalation. The NFPA believes that many firefighter injuries and deaths may be preventable through improved training, equipment and safety programs. Volunteers are covered for these and other injuries when they are job-related. The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board defines job-related injuries for volunteer firefighters to include:

  • Participation at an emergency situation that triggers a fire company response
  • Travel to, from and during calls to which the company responds and in connection with authorized activities
  • Firehouse duties, such as construction, repair, maintenance and inspection
  • Inspection of property for fire hazards
  • Fire prevention activities
  • Attendance or instruction at training
  • Participation in authorized drills, parades, funerals, inspections, etc.
  • Attendance as an authorized delegate at a convention or conference
  • Work on or testing of fire apparatus/equipment
  • Meetings of the fire company

If your workers’ compensation claim is approved, your medical expenses are covered and you receive benefits based on your regular income. If your injuries prevent you from returning to work, you are then eligible for permanent disability benefits.

Third-party lawsuits for damages due to negligence

Workers who receive permanent disability benefits inevitably suffer a critical loss of income and get nothing to compensate for their pain and suffering or loss of quality of life. Our attorneys recommend that disabled workers explore the possibility of a third-party lawsuit so they can be fully and fairly compensated.

Workers’ compensation prevents a volunteer firefighter from suing the fire company, the incorporated community that sponsors the company, or a fellow firefighter for negligence. However, the firefighter can sue a landlord whose negligence caused the firefighter’s injury. If, for example, a hidden hazard on the property caused the firefighter to fall and become trapped in a burning building, the landlord could be liable for the firefighter’s injury or death. You should consult with an experienced firefighter attorney to see if the facts of your case permit a third-party lawsuit.

Consult our New York attorneys about third-party lawsuits for volunteer firefighter injuries

If you or a firefighter you love suffered a disabling injury, you should explore all your legal options. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney at Barasch & McGarry can evaluate your case to determine if a third-party lawsuit is feasible. If so, we will fight aggressively to recover the maximum compensation possible. To schedule a free consultation, call 844.874.1564 or contact our office online.

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