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Initial Claims for Firefighters

Chicago Lawyers Helping First Responders

As a firefighter, you may face substantial, life-threatening dangers on a regular basis. You face the risk of broken bones, spinal injuries, burns, scars, disfigurement, and complications from smoke inhalation injuries. If you’re a firefighter injured on the job outside of Chicago, or a Chicago firefighter who suffers job-related burn injuries, meet with the experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys of Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca to discuss initial claims for firefighters. The Illinois workers’ compensation system was designed to make it easier for you to get compensation; unfortunately valid claims are sometimes denied. Our lawyers may be able to represent you.

Workers’ Compensation for Firefighters

Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, most workers in Illinois are entitled to obtain workers’ compensation benefits after suffering work-related injuries. In the course of being called to respond to a fire or other danger, you may suffer serious injuries, such as smoke inhalation and burns, and need to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation benefits to which you may be entitled as an injured firefighter include necessary, reasonable medical treatment, temporary total disability pay, temporary partial disability pay, permanent total disability pay, permanent partial disability pay, or vocational rehabilitation.

In Illinois, Chicago firefighters are generally excluded from the workers’ compensation requirement that apply to municipalities other than Chicago, though they have other recourse after getting injured on the job. There is an exception for Chicago firefighters who suffer permanent and serious disfigurements to the lower leg, hand, head or face due to work-related burns. For example, if you were seriously burned on your face while fighting a fire for the City of Chicago and required revision surgery for your scars, you might be able to get the City to pay medical benefits, along with disability pay for the time you need to recuperate.

Initial Claims for Firefighters

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission administers workers’ compensation claims. It’s wise to file an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Commission in connection with your work-related injury, even if the municipality that employs you is paying benefits. It’s not uncommon for municipalities and insurers to pay benefits initially, but then stop abruptly. It’s also not uncommon for them to deny portions of claims, while accepting others. For instance, they may be willing to pay for medication and a cast for your broken bones suffered in a job-related incident, but balk at paying for multiple revision surgeries to treat burn-related scarring and disfigurement.

However, disputes with an insurer can arise down the road, even after your initial claim. Putting an Application for Adjustment of Claims on file, even though you’re receiving benefits already, will allow you to obtain a hearing more quickly in the event of a dispute later on.

You should send your Application to your employer and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission should send you a notice of hearing that specifies the date of a status hearing and the arbitrator who will hear your case. There are periodic status hearings after that initial hearing, but unless either you or the insurer asks for a trial or one of you asks an arbitrator to resolve the matter, each of your attorneys can appear for you. If a dispute arises and either you or the insurer asks for resolution, you can request that the arbitrator hear it.

Retain a Chicago Lawyer

Sometimes, even valid initial claims for firefighters are denied. It’s important to be aware of this possibility and act accordingly, particularly if you suffered catastrophic injuries while firefighting. Most families don’t have enough saved for substantial medical bills and need for time off work. If you are a firefighter concerned about your initial claim in the workers’ compensation system, you should discuss your situation with the experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys of Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. We also represent firefighters in Champaign, Rockford, Quincy, and Aurora, as well as Sangamon, Winnebago, Kane, Cook, and Adams Counties. Call us at 800-444-1525 or 312-263-6330 or complete our online form.