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Firefighters Injured on the Job

Chicago Lawyers Representing Public Safety Personnel

Firefighters face a serious risk of injury while serving in the line of duty. While the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act allows almost all workers injured on the job to recover benefits through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurer, City of Chicago firefighters injured on the job are usually not able to pursue claims through the workers’ compensation system. However, firefighters outside of Chicago can recover workers’ compensation benefits. If you are an Illinois firefighter from a city other than Chicago and were injured on the job, you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. You should consult the Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers of Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca to understand the full range of benefits available.

Firefighters Injured on the Job

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act was designed to make it easier for workers to receive compensation for their injuries. Illinois workers whose injuries arise out of their employment should be able to obtain benefits. Firefighting is a line of work that carries tremendous risks of injury. In the course of their work, firefighters may sustain burns, wounds, spinal cord injuries, back injuries, skull fractures, traumatic brain injury, broken bones, and joint injuries. Members of a fire department who work for cities that have a population that exceeds 500,000 are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Firefighters employed by the City of Chicago are not covered by workers compensation benefits, with the exception of firefighters who suffer serious and permanent disfigurement due to burns. However, if you are a firefighter outside of Chicago, you may be able to recover benefits with the assistance of our attorneys.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

If you were injured while working as a firefighter in a city or suburb that has 500,000 or fewer people, you may be eligible to for any of the workers’ compensation benefits that other workers receive. Once you sustain an on-the-job injury, notify your employer as soon as possible. You may assume that when a traumatic event occurs, your employer already knows about your injuries. However, presenting your employer with written notice of your injuries can avoid a later false recollection of facts.

Firefighters may sustain serious physical injuries for which they can obtain benefits, such as medical care, disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation, mileage reimbursement, and death benefits.

After you sustain a work-related injury, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer should pay for all reasonable and necessary medical care. For instance, if you suffered burns and spinal cord damage when trying to exit a burning building, you may require intensive medical treatment and even surgery. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer will need to pay for the medical care and may have to pay for spinal or revision surgeries. Often, insurers seek to avoid more expensive medical care, such as surgical procedures.

Your employer’s insurer may ask you to attend an independent medical exam. In spite of the name, independent medical exams may not be independent. Insurers usually retain examining doctors who favor conservative treatments or have demonstrated a history of siding with employers and insurers over workers and their medical needs.

Besides physical injuries, firefighters hurt in traumatic events may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), for which psychiatric or psychological care should be provided. It may be possible to obtain benefits for serious psychological injuries when supported by objective evidence. In 2017, an Illinois appellate court ruled that a fire lieutenant who was diagnosed with PTSD was eligible for benefits. The lieutenant had witnessed a colleague killed and another injured during a fire.

Death Benefits

If your loved one was a firefighter who died on the job, you may be eligible for death benefits. Whenever a worker is killed on the job, his surviving spouse and minor children are entitled to death benefits paid by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer. If the deceased employee left no spouse or minor children, the death benefits may be paid to completely dependent parents. If the parents are no longer alive, benefits may then be paid to any person that was at least 50% dependent on the firefighter prior to his death.

Consult a Seasoned Chicago Attorney

If you are a firefighter who is injured outside of Chicago, you should discuss your situation with the experienced workers’ compensation lawyers of Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. Our firm represents firefighters injured on the job in Aurora, Quincy, Champaign, and Rockford, along with Winnebago, Cook, Adams, Sangamon, and Kane Counties. Call us at 800-444-1525 or 312-263-6330 or complete our online form.