How do these laws benefit fire fighters and EMS workers?
The employee diagnosed with an occupational disease or condition covered by a
presumptive disability law would be entitled to:
- payment of medical expenses
- disability retirement benefits
- worker's comp benefits
- lost wages, or
- benefits for spouse/family as the situation allows
These benefits will vary between states and provinces, so fire fighters should be familiar with the
workers compensation system that applies to them.
What are the limitations of presumptive disability laws?
The employee diagnosed with an occupational disease or condition covered by a presumptive disability law would be entitled to:
Currently federal fire fighters and many state and provincial fire fighters do not have presumptive laws in their jurisdictions.
This means that these fire fighters must prove that any illness or condition that they contract is associated with their employment on a case-by-case basis.
Generally presumptive laws apply to full-time paid professional fire fighters however some states and provinces
do include limited coverage for part-time and volunteer fire fighters.
Most states and provinces require a minimum number of years of service before a condition or illness is
presumed to be associated with fire fighting.
Most states and provinces limit the types of cancers or diseases that are presumed to be associated with fire fighting .
Most states and provinces include rebuttable clauses that allow an employer to challenge that a condition or illness did not come from fire
fighting but from some other cause. A classic example is if a fire fighter gets cancer but was also a smoker the employer will rebut the
presumption claiming that smoking was the primary cause of the cancer and not fire fighting.
Despite the presence of presumptive legislation, there is still no guarantee that claim will be approved.