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NC Firefighters Fight to Change Workers’ Compensation Laws

April 15th, 2019 Workers Comp
firefighter uniforms

Firefighters in North Carolina are fighting to expand death benefits—and Workers’ Compensation disability benefits—to those who have contracted cancer caused by exposure in the line of duty. A detailed article on their efforts is available here.

While North Carolina provides $100,000 in death benefits to the families of police officers, firefighters, and rescue workers who died in the line of duty, very few firefighters who died of cancer caused by toxic exposure on the job qualified. To make the situation worse, firefighters with cancer do not currently qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits under the existing law.

Though federal studies indicate firefighters are more likely to contract several types of cancer, state law limits eligibility to four types of cancer. Currently only those diagnosed with testicular, intestinal, and esophageal cancer, as well as mesothelioma, qualify under rules set by the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

Lobbying for Change

Across North Carolina, firefighters are pressing to expand death benefits to reflect the risks of toxic exposure they say are far too common. In Charlotte, three firefighters died of cancer within a three-month span in 2016. The Charlotte Fire Department says their 1,100 members filed a total of 41 cancer claims between April 2014 and March 2017.

The Firefighter Cancer Support Network, a non-profit organization, states cancer caused 70% of line of duty deaths in 2016 alone. According to another news source, firefighters in North Carolina and their supporters want the state to expand protection to include those diagnosed with:

  • Oral Cancer
  • Brain Cancer
  • Rectal Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Intestinal Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Mesothelioma

Fighting for Protection

In contrast to most other states, North Carolina does not allow firefighters with cancer to collect Workers’ Compensation benefits while they are sick. Other states presume firefighters with cancer are ill due to occupational exposure, making them eligible for benefits. In recent years, the state legislature—despite the introduction of multiple bills with dozens of co-sponsors—has refused to vote on bills to expand Workers’ Compensation and death benefits to firefighters with cancer.

We Can Help.

If you are unable to work due to a medical condition, mental illness, or injury, contact Daggett Shuler for help. An experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney can handle all of the paperwork and details necessary to work to secure the Workers’ Compensation benefits you deserve.

If you have questions about Workers’ Compensation benefits—or if your claim has been denied—call Daggett Shuler Law at 336-724-1234. When you call, you will speak with a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney absolutely FREE. We will investigate every detail of your situation at no cost to you—and fight hard to secure the benefits you deserve.

Daggett Shuler Law – You Can Depend on Us

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