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Law Offices of Bo Katzakian

Dying firefighter seeks workers' compensation benefits

California first responders face danger every single day. This is especially true for firefighters. That is part of the job. While workplace injuries might be expected in many circumstances, there is also a danger of occupational disease from long-term exposure to smoke, fumes and chemicals. Workers' compensation benefits are meant to help those who are injured or become ill from the job. However, there are glaring holes in the system and these can prevent workers from getting their workers' compensation benefits. Having legal help in such a situation is essential to try and get an approval.

A retired firefighter stricken with terminal cancer was denied in his application for workers' compensation benefits. With the denial, none of his extensive medical bills are being paid. The reason given is that the firefighter, now 70, took early retirement a decade ago after 30 years on the job. The carcinogens and other substances that firefighters inhale while fighting fires is viewed as a potential cause for the high rate of cancer for them. The law emphasizes the word "presumptive" with these cases in which firefighters become ill with cancer. Although that might be perceived as positive for this man's case, the state denied his claim due to his early retirement.

This man is not alone as a firefighter battling for workers' compensation. In 2017, there were six claims by firefighters - active and retired - who were diagnosed with cancer. Five were denied. Four ended up being litigated and two had their denials reversed. The man states that when he gave his deposition, the defense attorneys sought to find other possible causes of his disease in what he believes is an attempt to avoid admitting that his cancer was likely caused by his work as a firefighter.

For people who were injured or became ill from their work, a denial for workers' compensation benefits can be a nightmare as they come to grips not just with their illness, but with the reality that it will likely devastate them and their family financially. There are many avenues to appeal a denied claim. A law firm that understands how to lodge an appeal of denied claims is imperative to the case and should be consulted with immediately.

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