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When Injuries Befall First Responders


First responders put their lives on the line every day for Floridians. Often times the risks they take result in rescues and happy endings. But far too often, these heroes suffer injuries themselves, and sometimes even death. If you or a loved one is a first responder who is suffering physical injuries or reeling from a fatality due to the dangers of the job, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you to understand the laws related to first responders.

First Responders:  Putting Their Own Lives at Risk

One serious tragedy in recent memory occurred in the Florida Keys, where a firefighter entered a hole in a roadway on a rescue mission. Within just seconds, the firefighter was unconscious due to poisonous gasses in the underground chamber. Although he was pulled out of the hole and sent to the hospital, the men who had entered the hole previously had been exposed to the gasses for too long, and were unable to be revived.

Police officers, too, are put in extremely dangerous situations in the course of a typical day. Two Miami-Dade officers were ambushed recently, suffering serious injuries.

In addition to the physical injuries, PTSD affects some of these brave men and women. Consider the case of Cocoa Fire Department’s Josh Vandergrift, who responded to a call only to discover that his own brother was the victim in a bloody collision. Vandergrift considers himself just a “shell” of his former self after that shocking and horrific experience.

These incidents are just samples of the precarious work that first responders expose themselves to every day. As a first responder, every single call could be one that results in a lengthy hospital stay, or worse.

Workers’ Compensation and First Responders

Florida workers’ compensation laws take into consideration the special circumstances of first responders, and, in addition to the expected coverage following an in-the-line-of-duty accident, cover additional conditions:

  • Heart attack or stroke that occurs while off-duty: It is presumed that the nature of the work exacerbates any heart conditions that result in a disability. Therefore, for this protected class of workers, these conditions are covered, whether the culminating event occurs on- or off-duty;
  • PTSD when accompanied with a physical disability: While PTSD itself is not covered under worker’s compensation, when it is secondary to other physical symptoms, it may be covered.

Personal Injury and First Responders

The men and women who answer the call in dangerous situations should not be left to suffer without compensation when they are hurt because of the treacherous work they do. If you or a loved one has been injured in the line of duty, the experienced personal injury team at The Law Offices of Robert W. Elton thanks you for your service, and will step up to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us in Daytona and Ormond Beach for a free, confidential consultation.