Those who provide emergency services to their communities make many sacrifices. Unfortunately, fire fighters may be sacrificing their health when they contract a cancer that may be directly related to their work. Missouri employees may be in for a challenging fight when they become ill and struggle to make ends meet.
Fire fighters with a life-threatening illness in one particular state often struggle to get the workers’ compensation benefits to which they are entitled. Several years ago, this state approved a bill that was intended to make it easier for fire fighters to qualify for workers’ comp benefits if they were diagnosed with cancer. Research has shown a link between fire fighting and an increased risk of developing the deadly disease. However, that law has not fulfilled the purpose for which it was intended.
Over the past several years, more than 90 percent of the claims that have been filed by these public sector workers have been denied. Both fire fighters and their unions claim that a narrow definition of the law has enabled cities to justify denying these claims. Purportedly, when fire fighters appeal their denials, they are successful more than 60 percent of the time. Sadly, as some have found out, when they do win, they are likely to be sued by their city.
One man is on his last month of accrued vacation and sick time. His neuroendocrine cancer has spread throughout his body, and his claim for workers’ comp benefits was denied. It appears that many cities are counting on the fact that the majority of workers will not file an appeal. Last year, Missouri lawmakers began work on a bill that is touted as paving the way for fire fighters here to file these claims. Regardless of the profession, if one contracts a serious illness or suffers an injury related to the workplace, he or she is entitled to seek the assistance of an attorney to file a qualifying claim.