Frequently Asked Questions From NYC Firefighters
Q: I think I may have injured myself, but it only feels like a minor sprain/strain. What should I do?
A: Report all injuries, no matter how minor, to your supervisor and take a mark. Many times you may think you will feel better tomorrow or the next day, that the injury is so minor that it is not worth reporting. However, time and time again we have seen firefighter clients suffer from career-ending injuries that started out as a minor sprain/strain. Do not miss your opportunity to timely take a mark and report all line of duty injuries, no matter how minor.
Q: When should a CD-72 be filled out?
A: In addition to reporting all injuries, no matter how minor, to your supervisor and taking a mark, a CD-72, Line of Duty Member Injury Report, should always be filled out. Having an accurately filled out CD-72 is vital for all line of duty injuries. Without a properly filled out
CD-72, the Bureau of Health Services can deny authorizing much needed medical treatment. Worse yet, the pension board could deny you a 3/4 pension should your disabling injury not trace back to a CD-72.
For a more detailed discussion on the importance of a CD-72 visit: The Importance of Filling Out a CD-72 Accurately.
Q: I was injured in the line of duty and I have to go to the Bureau of Health Services (“BHS”) – what do I tell them?
A: During your first visit with BHS, it is imperative that you articulate how you were injured and detail each and every injury you think you may have. Initially, it may be difficult to determine whether the pain is coming from say your neck or your shoulder, as both areas may feel stiff and sore. Report both body parts to BHS, to ensure that you receive authorization for treatment for both, should it be required. Also, BHS has the habit of treating one body part at a time, so if you do not initially report all areas of concern you may be denied authorization down the road for an injured body part.
Q: I was injured in the line of duty. Should I call an attorney and if so, when?
A: While not all line of duty accidents warrant a lawsuit, speaking with an experienced attorney immediately after your accident is always a smart decision. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner that attorney can secure witness statements, obtain and preserve surveillance video and ensure that the proper investigation is performed. Do not delay in contacting an attorney after your line of duty accident, especially if the City of New York is a potential defendant (see the next question which deals with the City as a defendant). Our firm offers free consultations for all line of duty accident related questions.
Q: I was injured in my firehouse – OR – I was injured in a rig accident – can I make a claim against the City of New York?
A: Yes. You do have a legal right to make a claim against your employer, the City of New York. Our firm has handled numerous cases where firefighters were injured within their own firehouse, be it in the basement, bathroom or driveway. We also have handled many apparatus accident cases, where two rigs collide or the rig is in an accident with a civilian vehicle. Immediately contacting an experienced attorney after a firehouse/apparatus accident is critical, as you have 90 days from the accident to file a Notice of Claim against the City. Should you fail to file this claim within 90 days, you may be barred from bringing a lawsuit against the City. The Court does allow late Notice of Claims to be filed, but only after a judge grants permission to do so and that request to the judge must be made within 1 year 90 days of the accident. In short, do not delay in speaking with an attorney after any line of duty accidents, including those involving the City of New York.
Q: If I bring a claim against the City, will this affect my retirement and pension process?
A: Making a claim against the City for your line of duty injury should have no effect on your retirement and pension. Many firefighters fear that the City will punish them for bringing a claim, however, we have not found this to be the case. Our firm has handled numerous cases where our firefighter client has successfully recovered against the City, while at the same time was awarded a 3/4 pension.
Q: Can I bring a lawsuit for an injured body part that I previously injured?
A: Yes. Rarely do we see firefighters that do not have some sort of previous medical history for the injured body part they are suing for. Having a previous injury, even a previous surgery, to the same body part you want to make a claim for, does not prevent you from doing so. In this situation, a claim is made for exacerbation and aggravation of a previous asymptomatic injury/ condition. Hopefully, we are able to prove that you fully recovered from your previous injury, you were able to return to full-duty without any restrictions and that the accident worsened the existing condition.
Q: If I bring a lawsuit, will the members of my house and my supervisor be contacted?
A: This is not the easiest question to answer, as all lawsuits differ. However, in some circumstances it is very beneficial to have your fellow firefighters and supervisor provide testimony in support of your claim. For example, if a member of your house witnessed you falling down defective stairs, his testimony would add credibility to your claim and help prove your case. It is understandable that most firefighters do not want to get others involved in their lawsuits, but sometimes it is unavoidably and required.
Q: Isn’t getting injured just part of the job that I signed up for?
A: Firefighting is a dangerous profession, but not all injures are “just part of the job.” Under New York State law, injured firefighters have significant legal rights. The buildings, businesses and homes you are entering should be maintained safely and comply with New York City and State codes. This is true if the building is owned by a private individual, a corporation or the City of New York. Should these entities fail to properly comply with the governing codes and their failure either directly or indirectly causes your line of duty accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injury.
For a more detailed discussion, visit: General Municipal Law 205-a.