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Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers: Special Rules Under Workers’ Compensation Law

Are you a law enforcement officer or firefighter who has become disabled due to a heart condition, hypertension, or tuberculosis? If so, you are in a specially designated class of protected worker, and you may be eligible for long-term workers’ compensation benefits under Florida Statute 112.18. Understand your rights when it comes to workers’ compensation.  Contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to assist you with your claim today.

While it is incumbent upon workers in other jobs to prove a correlation between the work and said condition, Florida law protects individuals who serve as police officers, correctional officers, probation officers, and firefighters by eliminating this obligation. In other words, Florida law states that when these specific conditions exhibit in individuals in this protected class of workers, it is presumed that the disabling condition is a result of the work.

What Conditions Impact Me Under Statute 112.18?

Specific expectations exist with regard to retaining benefits under these circumstances. Four key requirements that must be met under Florida Statute 112.18.

  • You must be a member of a protected class as noted above;
  • Your condition must be related to heart health, tuberculosis, or hypertension;
  • You must have passed a physical prior to employment, and you must not have deferred treatment for any related health conditions previously;
  • You must have experienced partial or total disability related to this condition.

What Constitutes a Disability?

Simply experiencing one of these protected medical conditions does not in itself qualify an individual for benefits. To be classified as a disability, the condition must impact one’s earning potential.

What if I Experience a Heart Attack or Stroke, but Not While on the Job?

Many heart conditions may be present for some time, although the actual disabling event may occur outside of work hours. The law presumes that the nature of the work itself exacerbated the medical condition resulting in the disability, regardless of whether or not it occurred while at work.

Is There a Time Limit Associated with my Claim?

The law provides for a clear statute of limitations with this type of claim. You must inform your supervisor within 90 days of being instructed by your physician that your work must be restricted or limited in any way that impacts your income. If for any reason your claim is denied, you may file a new claim within two years of those physician restrictions.

My Initial Claim was Rejected:  What Now?

Assuming you meet the original requirements related to protected classes and medical conditions, you may qualify for long-term disability payments. Workers’ compensation law is extremely complex in Florida, and limits on benefits may cause undue hardships for injured workers. But recent legal precedents indicate that the courts may be looking to rectify unjust limits written into workers’ compensation laws.

If you find yourself struggling to collect the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve after a heart, hypertension or TB related disability, don’t get bogged down in forms and regulations that are complicated and difficult to understand. Instead, let the dedicated, knowledgeable Florida Certified Specialists at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian work for you.

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