First Responders and Unintentional Injuries
Media reports usually focus on intentional first responder injuries, such as police officers who are shot in the line of duty. Unintentional injuries, like falls and smoke inhalation, often go under the radar. Yet emergency responders have a significantly higher risk of unintentional injury than people in almost any other line of work.
Whether they work in a big city like Hattiesburg or a small town like Tupelo, these victims could be entitled to substantial compensation. A Jackson workers’ compensation attorney can obtain wage replacement and medical bill payment benefits. These financial benefits give injured workers and their families the resources they need to carry on with their lives.
Types of Injuries
Generally, when first responders answer an emergency call, they know almost nothing about the physical environment. But they answer these calls anyway, because they help people who are in trouble. Their own safety is secondary. Workers’ compensation insurance picks up the slack. It provides compensation for:
- Trauma Injuries: Falls are perhaps the most common unintentional emergency responder injuries which happen suddenly and without warning. Motor vehicle crashes are probably a close second. Many motorists ignore emergency lights or sirens and fail to give first responders the right of way.
- Occupational Diseases: Health problems related to smoke inhalation are probably the most common occupational diseases among first responders. In Mississippi, there is a presumption that certain forms of cancer and other illnesses were caused by smoke inhalation. Repetitive joint stress, such as repetitive bending or jumping, is another example.
Frequently, a pre-existing condition made the victim more vulnerable to injury and/or made the injury more severe. Generally, full compensation is available in these situations, as outlined below.280
In Mississippi, unintentional injury victims are usually entitled to wage replacement and medical bill payment.
Generally, workers’ compensation pays two-thirds of the victim’s average weekly wage for the duration of a temporary disability. If these victims can work but must reduce their hours as they recover, workers’ compensation usually pays two-thirds of the difference between the old and new salaries.
Prior wages do not necessarily establish the average weekly wage. Many workers are injured during probationary periods. These workers are entitled to the raises they would have received if they had not been injured. The same thing applies to missed performance bonuses.
The average weekly wage also includes non-cash compensation, such as tuition reimbursement or housing allowance.
Workers’ compensation usually pays all reasonably necessary medical expenses. This category includes emergency care, follow-up treatment, physical therapy, and other medical costs.
The “reasonably necessary” provision often causes problems. Many insurance companies refuse to pay for cutting-edge treatments. For example, many Post Traumatic Stress Disorder patients respond well to MDMA (ecstasy). But some insurance companies do not believe these treatments are legitimate. So, an attorney advocates for victims in these situations.
Apropos of nothing, PTSD is not a “processing disorder.” It is a physical brain injury, and it must be treated like any other chemical imbalance.
Team Up with a Savvy Attorney
Injured first responders could be entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Jackson, contact Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe, PLLC. Home, virtual, and hospital visits are available.