Jersey County Firefighter Injury Lawyer

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Many professions carry a significantly higher risk of injury and death. Firefighters quickly respond to emergencies in dangerous locations, such as car accidents and buildings that are on fire. In their line of work, firefighters heroically save many individuals, but they can also be injured or killed themselves. When this happens, a Jersey County firefighter injury lawyer can help them, or their families recover the compensation they need.

Employees injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, which cover medical costs and a portion of lost wages. When employees lose their lives from accidents or injuries on the job, workers’ compensation provides benefits and coverage for their surviving loved ones. The state’s workers’ compensation laws apply to firefighters as well, but there are also additional laws and protections for firefighters and other first responders.

If you are a firefighter who was injured while doing your essential duty, a Jersey County firefighter injury lawyer can help you navigate complex state laws to obtain the compensation you deserve. By working with an attorney who understands the state and local laws surrounding your occupation and injury, your claim is more likely to succeed, and you can also have legal guidance and compassion throughout the process.

Injuries That Firefighters Face on the Job

Firefighters face many potentially severe and catastrophic injuries while working. Even when there is no immediate danger, firefighters must often complete labor-intensive tasks quickly, and this can also cause injury suddenly or over time. Some of the most common injuries in workers’ compensation and personal injury claims include:

  • Severe burns
  • Electrocution
  • Cancer
  • Smoke inhalation and respiratory diseases
  • Emotional strain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Hearing loss
  • Blood-borne infections
  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Crushing injuries
  • Loss of limbs
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head and facial injuries
  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals and materials

Some injuries that firefighters receive over the course of their work are minor and simply take time to heal. Unfortunately, it’s common that injuries are lasting, debilitating, and disabling. These injuries can impact the rest of an individual’s life, and they require significant compensation to ensure that these heroes can maintain financial stability.

Understanding Workers’ Compensation Claims for Firefighters

Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, nearly all employees are covered for injuries they suffer while working. Nearly all employers in the state are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which protects both employers and employees. It provides employees with financial stability after an accident or developmental illness, and it protects employers from facing civil claims for injuries on the worksite.

Workers’ compensation benefits include most firefighters in the state. Firefighters in Chicago are excluded from receiving workers’ compensation benefits because they work in a city with a population greater than 500,000. There are only some exceptions to this rule.

However, firefighters in other locations in Illinois, like Jersey County, are still eligible for workers’ compensation. These benefits provide for:

  • Related medical costs
  • A percentage of lost wages and lost earning capacity
  • Any necessary long-term or rehabilitative care

Additionally, first responders throughout the state have additional methods of receiving benefits.

Other Benefits for First Responders in Jersey County

The emotional and physical requirements for first responders, as well as the civic benefit of these professions, have resulted in state laws that provide additional benefits for injured employees. Some of these benefits may be available in addition to workers’ compensation benefits or in place of them.

These state laws frequently overlap with federal and local laws, so it is essential that you find an attorney who has experience with these complex issues. An experienced attorney knows how to efficiently approach your case and determine what benefits you can obtain. They can also help you maximize the benefits you deserve after you receive an injury on the job.

The Illinois Pension Code

The Illinois Pension Code includes guidelines specific for first responders, including firefighters and police officers. Under this law, qualifying first responders who are disabled and unable to return to their work can receive pension benefits. First responders receive these benefits even when they cannot prove that their injury or disability is the result of their work. These pension benefits provide first responders with a percentage of their salary.

The Public Employee Disability Act

The Public Employee Disability Act (PEDA) is a state law that gives financial protection to public service employees who face significant hazards during their work. These include:

  • Firefighters
  • Police officers
  • Corrections officers
  • Employees at state mental health facilities
  • Department of Human Services employees

However, these benefits do not extend to employees of cities with populations over 1 million, excluding Chicago employees from receiving PEDA benefits.

If an employee is injured while in the line of duty, they can receive PEDA benefits to provide financial security for themselves and their family if they cannot return to work. These benefits allow an employee to receive their full income for up to 1 year. Because workers’ compensation only provides for about ⅔ earnings, and pension benefits offer a portion, this difference can greatly help injured firefighters.

PEDA benefits also protect employees from other negative effects, such as losing sick leave, paid time off, service credits, and other accrued leave and benefits.

To receive these benefits, employees must follow certain guidelines, including:

  • Undergoing a medical exam
  • Not working during the period of time they receive benefits
  • Not receiving other benefits

If you are an injured firefighter, an attorney who has experience with these state and local laws can guide you through the process of applying for these benefits. They can help ensure that you follow the correct guidelines and receive the benefits you deserve.

The Public Safety Employee Benefits Act

Under the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act (PSEBA), first responders in Illinois who are catastrophically injured or killed while in the line of duty under certain circumstances can receive certain benefits. These circumstances include injuries caused by:

  1. A response to fresh pursuit
  2. A response to an emergency or a situation that the employee has reason to believe is an emergency
  3. An unlawful action by another party
  4. The investigation of criminal actions

PSEBA benefits are employer-funded healthcare insurance benefits for the rest of the employee’s life, which also covers the employee’s spouse and children. Children stop receiving coverage when they turn 18, or when they turn 25 if they are still dependent full-time or part-time students. If the employee dies, their spouse continues to receive benefits until they remarry.

Firefighters, police officers, and correctional probation officers can receive benefits under PSEBA. To receive these benefits, a sustained injury must be catastrophic. This means that the injury is debilitating and prevents the employee from engaging in day-to-day functions or obtaining gainful employment.

Third-Party Personal Injury Claims for Firefighters

In some situations, firefighters can file a personal injury claim in addition to a workers’ compensation claim. If a third party was responsible for your injury, such as the manufacturer or distributor of a product, a property owner, or the driver of another vehicle, you can hold them liable. You can file a personal injury claim if the individual:

  1. Owed a level of care
  2. Was negligent or reckless
  3. Caused the accident and injury as a result

If the third party injured you while you were on the job, you may be able to cover personal injury damages in addition to workers’ compensation damages. A personal injury claim requires you to prove that someone was at fault for the injury, which isn’t the case for workers’ compensation. However, personal injury claims could also provide full-wage coverage and noneconomic damages.

What Are the Benefits of Working With a Firefighter Injury Lawyer?

An experienced workers’ compensation and personal injury attorney can help you in several ways, including:

  • Determining what benefits you are eligible for. As a public employee, there are several laws that provide you with different benefits. This can be confusing, especially if you are unfamiliar with the system. An attorney can lay out what benefits you can obtain and which laws can bring you the most benefits.
  • Calculating your claim’s value. When filing a workers’ comp or personal injury claim, your attorney can accurately value your medical bills, future medical costs, and complications, and how your future earning capacity may be impacted by an injury.
  • Handling legal minutiae. An attorney can manage legal deadlines and filing requirements while gathering evidence to create a strong claim or request for benefits. This increases a claim’s chances of success. If your claim or benefits request is denied, your attorney can walk you through the appeals process or other legal options.

Protect Your Rights and Get the Benefits You Deserve

Firefighters provide an invaluable and heroic service to the public. When you are injured in the line of duty or on the job as a firefighter, you deserve compassion, care, and respect. You also deserve financial stability and the certainty that your family will be cared for. Joshua R. Evans, Attorney at Law, is an experienced and dedicated attorney who believes that injured employees should receive full and fair compensation. Our firm wants to protect those in Jersey County, including those who serve every day to provide that protection.

If you are a firefighter who has been injured, or if your loved one was a firefighter who was killed, you likely deserve benefits. Contact our team today to learn what benefits you may be eligible for and how we can help you obtain them.

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JERSEY COUNTY

105 N.State Street
Jerseyville, IL 62052

phone: (618) 498-0001

fax: 618-266-2845

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