Each year, during the Fourth of July period, millions of Americans will be off from work spending time with friends and family. Many will go to a backyard cookout, and others will go to a local celebration and end the night by watching a fireworks display. Our workers’ compensation lawyers understand that while most of us are out enjoying the festivities, there will be those still on the clock, working hard to keep us safe.
There will be police officers directing crowds and patrolling the roads to keep us safe from drunk drivers. There will be EMTs, paramedics, and firefighters staffing sporting events and fireworks displays across the county. These brave men and women are putting the health and safety of others in the community above their own.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which examined the occupational health and safety of those working in emergency preparedness and response, these individuals have significantly increased incidence of workplace accidents and illness.
It should come as no surprise that professional firefighters and police officers are high on the list of occupations in terms of fatality rate. Statistically, the fatality rate for these first responders is between three and four times the national average. In the case of firefighters, we often see injuries related to burns or “fire attack,” falling debris during search and rescue operations, and smoke inhalation. For police officers, about 90 percent of all work-related injuries are from vehicle crashes and assaults. EMTs and paramedics deal with many of the same on-the-job dangers but also bear the risk of contracting infectious disease through patient contact and accidental needle sticks.
While there is no doubt that these are dangerous jobs, there are certain steps you can take to help recover workers’ compensation benefits. First, if you have suffered an on-the-job injury, it is essential that you report your injury to your supervisor and management as soon as possible. You should also take pictures where appropriate.
In other words, you need to document everything that is relevant before injuries heal and the scene is changed. It is common for workers’ compensation insurance companies to deny paying benefits by claiming than an employee’s illness or injuries were not work-related.
Additional steps you can take to achieve the best results in your workers’ compensation case are to get the names of any witnesses to the accident, fill out all incident reports completely and accurately, seek medical attention promptly, and do your best not miss any scheduled appointments with your doctors.
It is likely that your employer’s insurance company will ask you to make a recorded statement. The way this typically works is that shortly after the accident has been reported–sometimes even the same day–a claims adjuster from the insurance company will contact you and ask you what happened. They will ask you to make a recorded statement. The statement is then kept in your file and can be used during any administrative hearings. It is in your best interest to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney before making a recorded statement. Remember, the insurance company is more interested in its profit-and-loss statement than whether you receive appropriate compensation for your workplace injury.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Emergency Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control
More Blog Entries
Protecting Workers with Safety Equipment — An Employer’s Responsibility, Nov. 12, 2012, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Blog