I try to talk in plain English when I write and when you call. Phony lawyers who use big words to try and seem smart are not my cup of tea. That said, I want to talk about first responders and heart attacks and it’s not all “plain English.
As we all know, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics have particularly hard jobs. Because of their unique job environments, there are special conditions in place in Illinois to ensure they are covered by the Workers Compensation Act. Those in the emergency responders’ fields are particularly prone to heart disease. In fact, 45% of on duty fire fighters deaths are caused by cardiovascular events.
The Illinois Workers Comp Act says that anyone who has worked in this field for more than five years, who is diagnosed with any blood borne pathogen, lung or respiratory disease or condition, heart or vascular disease or condition, hypertension, tuberculosis, or cancer, who is also deemed disabled due to their condition, will be covered by workers comp. If a person has worked in the field for less than five years, but is still exposed to the conditions, and diagnosed due to the exposure, will still be covered, but an adjustment to the coverage may take place.
This doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk win. What it means is that there’s a “rebuttable presumption” that your job duties contributed to you getting these diseases/conditions. The insurance company can try to prove that your job had nothing to do with it. For example, if you are a firefighter (not in Chicago, they are the exception to the rule) and have a heart attack, it’s presumed that you should get Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. However, let’s say you weigh 350 pounds, smoke two packs a day, don’t exercise and have a family history of heart disease while working mostly a desk job. The insurance company can argue that those are the reasons you had the heart attack and that the job had nothing to do with it.
The bottom line is that in these dangerous, challenging jobs, the law is in your favor and if the rest of your life is relatively healthy, you should win your case. Too few people know about this law (it’s from Section 6(f) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act) and as a result many workers are leaving money on the table.
If you are an emergency responder who has been injured on duty, or has one of the above medical conditions due in part to your work environment we can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation to review the facts of your case.