There has been a national push in recent years to increase workers’ compensation for firefighters. Due to the inherently risky nature of the work, supporters of the campaign held that firefighters should be entitled to additional coverage for special types of work-related injuries. In particular, they wanted firefighter workers’ compensation to cover cancer treatment.
Firefighters are exposed to significant risks on a daily basis. In addition to the potential for smoke inhalation and burns, there are also considerable other health risks. Much of modern day construction utilizes synthetic building materials, and when such materials burn, they emit harmful chemicals. Exposure to such chemicals has been shown to cause cancer and other serious diseases.
Nonetheless, in many states, cancer is not considered to be a work-related effect of firefighting. Critics have claimed that the causal relationship is only speculative. Georgia workers’ compensation law, too, has held the same stance.
However, Georgia has changed its view on the matter. On January 1, 2018, House Bill 146 became enacted as law. It provides firefighters with workers’ compensation benefits that covers cancer treatment. Under the law, any firefighter providing medical proof of a qualifying cancer diagnosis may receive a lump sum payment of $25,000 and disability payments for up to three years. This coverage is available to any firefighter who has served on a firefighting squadron for at least 12 consecutive months.
The passing of this legislation enhances protections for the brave individuals who risk their lives every day to keep the community safe. If you are a firefighter who has sustained injury on the job, consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure you receive the full benefits you deserve.