First Responder Claims Under the Heart/Lung Bill in Florida
On Behalf of Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Sosa | May 2, 2022 | Workers' Compensation
While Florida workers’ compensation laws generally cover individuals who suffer injuries or illnesses on the job, one state law known as the Heart/Lung Bill provides additional protections to workers who put their lives on the line as first responders. Specifically, the law makes it simpler for firefighters, police officers, and correctional officers to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for cardiovascular disease, hepatitis A, B and C, tuberculosis, and sever all communicable diseases.
Anyone working as a first responder who is suffering from heart/lung issues, hypertension, PTSD, orthopedic injury, disability pension claims, high blood pressure, heart disease, or TB should discuss their rights with a first responder lawyer as soon as possible.
What are Protections Under the Heart/Lung Bill?
In most situations, someone must prove that their injury or illness was a direct result of the course of their employment to obtain workers’ compensation coverage for medical expenses, lost income, and disability. Proving this becomes significantly more challenging when someone has an illness that they might also develop in the normal course of life, such as heart disease.
Under traditional workers’ compensation laws, first responders with Hepatitis A, B or C, or cardiovascular issues would face an extremely uphill battle to obtain benefits. Most insurance companies would easily challenge the connection between the medical condition and their jobs.
However, because these conditions are not uncommon among law enforcement officers and firefighters, the law creates a presumption that if someone in a qualified job develops a heart or lung condition, it is considered to be a direct consequence of their job.
Can Employers or Insurers Challenge this Presumption?
It is possible for your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance company to try to overcome this presumption as it is rebuttable. However, this requires the company to present clear and convincing evidence that there is a non-work-related cause of your cardiac or respiratory disease.
How a First Responder Lawyer Can Help with Heart/Lung Bill Claims
First, an attorney can gather evidence to demonstrate that a worker meets the requirements of the presumption, including:
- They have a qualified profession under the Heart/Lung Bill
- They have a diagnosis of an eligible condition
- They previously passed a physical exam and were free of the condition before beginning employment
- The condition causes partial or total disability
Even after meeting these requirements, insurance companies regularly deny valid Heart/Lung Bill claims. An attorney can address this matter and handle all issues relating to workers’ compensation claims, disability claims, pension, and more.
Speak With a Florida First Responder Attorney About Your Options
The attorneys of Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Sosa are proud to represent all types of first responders in various claims, including for disability or workers’ compensation benefits, pension issues, and in-the-line-of-duty claims, among others. Contact our office to learn more about the legal services available.