Firefighters sustain work-related injuries from time to time. It is not necessary for an error to occur for an injury to occur in this line of work. You can suffer smoke inhalation, burns, cuts, broken bones, and other injuries while responding to an emergency call. Workers’ compensation is available to help you obtain the medical care necessary for a healthy recovery.
Firefighters face dangerous situations every day in their line of work. It can be anything from a small fire to a forest fire. More recently, Denver-area firefighters are fighting wildfires near Fort Collins. More than 300 firefighters were called to the scene to help extinguish this fire. The area in which a forest fire is located can be treacherous terrain. Trees can topple over, depletion can occur, the ground can be uneven or have invisible holes, and flames can spiral out of control. Even with all precautions in place, injury can still occur. As an injured firefighter, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim.
What is the first step in starting a workers’ compensation claim?
The first step in filing a workers’ compensation claim is to notify your employer. Talk to your supervisor and ask for an injury report to fill out. Your employer is required by law to provide you with a list of two doctors from which you can choose Doctor. If your employer does not give you a list, you can select your own doctor.
The only exception to this is when an injury is so sudden and severe that you must get emergency care right away. If that’s the case, notify your employer once things stabilize.
What is the second step in starting a workers’ compensation claim?
Second, it is essential to seek medical attention. At the hospital, explain that the injury occurred while you were in the field responding to an emergency call. This will start the process of filing your claim. The hospital will ask you a series of questions to include in your initial report about what you were doing and how the accident occurred. Some of the questions you might ask a firefighter would match the type of emergency call they were responding to, whether they had a full squad responding, and whether all of the firefighter’s safety equipment was used and working properly. Questions specifically related to the fire itself as to how involved it was, what type of building it was, and what method of putting out the flames was used. They will also ask about the circumstances surrounding the injury, which could include the safety precautions taken, the response time, the appropriate equipment available, and the installation of a suitable command center.
It is very important to remember the sequence of events during the fire emergency call as closely as possible when completing this paperwork. If you fell, it is important to remember what happened that caused you to fall, which way you fell, and which way you landed. The little details are important.
The Colorado Workers’ Compensation website has an FAQ section to help answer the most frequently asked questions available here. Another item to keep in mind is that you should keep all receipts for everything you have spent out of pocket in connection with your injury. Copies of all these receipts should be made and sent to the Workers’ Compensation office for reimbursement.
Follow-up care will be established after your injury and / or discharge from the hospital. Firefighters can suffer a wide variety of injuries from severe burns, burned windpipes, broken bones, paralysis, organ damage, and less serious injuries. Since some of these injuries are serious, it may take months of rehabilitation and treatment to be able to return to the fire station again. A firefighter who has suffered severe burns may require several skin graft procedures and extensive physical therapy upon discharge from the hospital. It is important that each procedure is completed and that all physical therapies are attended.
Respiratory treatments may be needed for the rest of your life after a lung injury. Pulmonary function tests can be a large part of the follow-up care process. Follow-up care is an important part of both your recovery process and your workers’ compensation claim. Failing to follow through with aftercare can show workers’ compensation that you’re not actually as injured as the reports indicate.
Workers’ compensation law can be very confusing. Attorneys are available to help you understand the difficulties that can arise when fighting for your rights as an injured firefighter. To start, you can ask why you need an attorney and think that you will be able to handle the claim on your own.