First responders such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs/paramedics and tow truck operators are often the first people to arrive on the scene after a serious accident or injury.
Unfortunately, while working to save the lives of others, first responders' lives are often in danger. In fact, statistics from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) show that thousands of police officers, EMTs, and other first responders are injured or even killed in on-the-job incidents each year.
After sustaining an injury in the line of duty, first responders often trust their department, municipality, or employer to resolve their claims or cases fairly, and ensure they receive all the compensation they deserve for their injuries and other losses.
However, it's never the injured officer's trusted colleagues or supervisors who make the decisions regarding their workers' compensation or settlement benefits. Instead, it's a dispassionate insurance adjuster with an eye on the company or municipality's bottom line, making it extremely important for injured first responders to seek out legal representation from an experienced attorney they can trust.
If you're a first responder who was injured on the job, here's what you need to know.
Examples of First Responder Accidents
Every day, first responders face numerous hazards in the workplace, many of which can lead to accidents, injuries or deaths. Some of the most common first responder accidents include:
- Assaults: Physical attacks are common among police officers and account for approximately 38 percent of fatal law enforcement injuries.
- Vehicle crashes: First responders may be injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes, or when struck by a vehicle while responding to a wreck or other accident. Car accidents or “struck by” accidents account for 37 percent of fatal injuries for law enforcement personnel.
- Overexertion accidents: First responders can have many physically-demanding duties, so it should come as no surprise that overexertion accidents account for up to 64 percent of the injuries that cause first responders to miss work.
- Exposure to toxins or chemicals: First responders can be exposed to dangerous toxins and chemicals while responding to factory accidents, chemical spills, natural disasters, building demolitions, and other situations.
- Exposure to equipment-related radiation: According to research from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, law enforcement officers may be at risk for serious health problems caused by exposure to the radiation from traffic radar devices.
- Exposure to mental and/or emotional trauma: First responders who witness traumatic events may suffer severe mental health issues as a result.
Common First Responder Injuries
First responders who put their lives on the line on a daily basis can suffer a wide variety of serious injuries, such as:
- Broken or crushed bones
- Concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Gunshot wounds
- Stab wounds
- Neck, shoulder or back pain
- Severe burns
- Muscle sprains and strains
- Slipped or herniated discs
- Mental stress
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Workers' Compensation vs. Personal Injury Lawsuits
Injured first responders can often pursue multiple avenues to compensation. For example, while workers' compensation benefits cover medical costs and wages lost while recovering from job-related injuries, if a first responder was injured due to third-party negligence, he or she could also file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. This would allow the first responder to seek a financial award for non-economic damages, such as physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, scarring or disfigurement, and more.
Do You Need Someone to Represent Your Interests?
If you're a first responder who was injured on the job, you may be eligible for compensation. As an experienced personal injury lawyer and former decorated police captain, Randy Sevenish of Sevenish Law understands the hazards that first responders face. Let him help you fight for the financial award you deserve.
Contact Sevenish Law today to arrange a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case.