In California and across the U.S., first responders’ jobs are difficult and dangerous enough without thinking about the possibility of common, everyday dangers adding to the risk. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening with distracted drivers. As a new study shows, the combination of law enforcement, emergency medical technicians and firefighters working at a scene and a driver passing by while distracted is a growing concern for workplace injuries and death of workers. Workers compensation benefits could be necessary for those who have been hurt in an accident under these circumstances. Understanding the steps to file frequently requires legal advice.

The National Safety Council found that 71% of drivers who pass first responders who are at the scene of an accident are distracted by the ongoing work. They take photographs and text when passing by. That is almost three times the number of drivers who admit to texting and driving and taking photos at other times. 60% say they post the images on their social media accounts. Two out of three have sent emails about the incident.

These behaviors are raising the number of fatalities. 16% of drivers say that have crashed into or almost crashed into a first responders’ vehicle or a first responder. That has risen by 60% since 2017. So far in 2019, there have been 21 such fatalities including 10 law enforcement officers. In 2018, there were 14 law enforcement fatalities in these incidents for the entire year. NSC researchers found it surprising that there is such a significant number of people who are behaving in this way behind the wheel as they are passing an emergency. This creates another level of risk to workers whose job is already a dangerous one.

The last thing emergency responders need is another layer of concern when they are at an accident scene trying to help victims. However, this research shows that distracted driving is infiltrating another part of life and placing people at risk. For emergency responders who have been hurt in this type of accident, it is imperative to understand how to go about filing workers’ compensation claims. This is key to pay for medical expenses, lost wages and more as they try to recover. Since workers’ compensation claims can sometimes be complicated and in dispute, having legal assistance is vital to getting the maximum in benefits. A law firm that helps with workers’ compensation can be consulted for assistance.