Firefighters Battle for Workers’ Comp in Georgia
Some states, like New Hampshire, have generous and presumptive workers’ comp coverage for first responders. In this case, the word presumptive means that if a first responder gets PTSD on the job, the state will presume that the illness was caused by the first responder’s dangerous work, and the illness will be covered under workers’ comp. For firefighters, specifically, many states have a presumptive relationship to occupational cancer.
Unfortunately, Georgia is not one of those states.
Before 2017, Georgia firefighters were required to show “clear and convincing evidence” that their occupation caused their cancer. Thanks to Georgia State Senator John Albers, the evidential requirement was lowered and the Senate has agreed to cover occupational cancer under workers’ comp upon a preponderance of the evidence alone. Essentially, this means that a firefighter’s job has to be more than 50% likely to have caused their cancer.
While this is a small step forward for firefighters in their battle against occupational cancer, 2017 also saw one big step back. In 2017, Georgia lawmakers passed legislation removing cancer presumptions from workers’ comp. In its place, the state enacted lump-sum payouts. This means that if a firefighter is diagnosed with cancer after being on the job for at least a year, they will a receive a one-time cash payout of $25,000 upon their initial diagnosis.
On average, treating cancer costs about $150,000.
Enlisting Legal Aid
Because Georgia’s workers’ comp situation is wholly inadequate for the costs of treating cancer and doesn’t even begin to consider the loss of income and earning potential, many firefighters seek the assistance of workers’ comp attorneys.
With the help of a lawyer, firefighters can prove that their cancer was work related using a preponderance of the evidence, and sue for their workers’ comp benefits. While $25,000 may be helpful for someone diagnosed with cancer independently of their careers, it is unfair for the health of the men and women who risk their lives for us to be reduced to such a paltry sum.
If you need help getting the benefits you are entitled to, call us at 404-800-4661 ASAP.
At Whiteman, Hamilton & Conklin, LLC, we have over 80 years of experience handling complex workers’ comp claims and a track record of reputable results. We would be honored to serve the first responders who so diligently serve our community. Schedule a free consultation today.