Injuries of First Responders

First responders play a critical role in South Carolina’s emergency services and safety forces. They are the first on the scene of a traffic accident, crime or natural disaster. First responders including firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics and emergency medical technicians often find themselves in dangerous situations and may sustain serious injuries while performing their jobs.

First Responders working
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First responders including volunteer firefighters, auxiliary police officers and volunteer rescue squad members may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits for physical injuries sustained in the line of duty. If you are a first responder who has been injured on the job and you are having difficulty obtaining workers’ comp benefits, contact Joye Law Firm for help.

Our South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Joye Law Firm respect the bravery and dedication of first responders to putting themselves in harm’s way to help others. We represent first responders who have been injured on the job and have disputed workers’ comp claims. We fight for the benefits and compensation first responders need for medical bills, future medical bills, lost earnings, and other damages. When police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and other first responders suffer harm, we fight for their right to full and fair compensation.

Joye Law Firm has been helping injured people throughout South Carolina for more than 50 years. Joye Law Firm has offices in Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Clinton. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our experienced South Carolina workers’ comp lawyers, call 877-936-9707 today.

Common Emergency Responder Injuries Suffered on the Job

First responders have among the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Their work exposes them to many hazards including fires and explosions, traffic accidents, collapsed buildings, natural disasters, flooding, hazardous chemicals, violent assaults, electrical shock, and terrorist incidents.

The injuries commonly suffered by first responders include:

Concussions – A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can occur when a first responder suffers a blow to the head. While concussions may cause a brief loss of consciousness, they are typically not life-threatening. Concussion symptoms may not appear right away, therefore first responders may not realize they have a head injury initially. Symptoms include difficulty maintaining balance, impaired coordination, slurred speech, inability to concentrate, memory problems, and seizures.

Broken bones – Broken bones, or fractures, are some of the most common types of work injuries. You can suffer a broken bone in many types of emergency work. Some first responders such as law enforcement officers and ambulance personnel spend many hours behind the wheel and are at increased risk of traffic collisions when responding to calls. Fractures sustained in motor vehicle accidents are a common type of injury sustained by law enforcement officers in the line of duty.

Internal organ damage –Any kind of trauma can lead to severe injuries to internal organs. Common trauma-related internal organ damage includes:

  • Punctured lung caused by broken ribs
  • Kidney damage
  • Ruptured spleen
  • Liver or bowel damage

Burn injuries – Firefighters are exposed to flames and smoke and are especially susceptible to burn injuries while performing their jobs. A workplace burn injury victim may suffer deep tissue damage that causes extensive scarring and requires a lengthy recovery. Types of burn injuries include:

  • Thermal burns (fires, hot metal)
  • Chemical burns
  • Electrical burns
  • Explosions

Lacerations – Lacerations are deep cuts or tears in the flesh. These injuries can occur in virtually any industry but are common in first responders due to the dangerous nature of the work. Lacerations may occur in a traffic accident or when a first responder doesn’t have the proper safety gear.

Torn ligaments – Police officers may hurt their knees, legs, or feet when chasing a suspect. Torn ACLs and Achille’s tendons are some of the most common ligament injuries.

Overexertion – Overexertion occurs when a first responder strains or sprains a muscle or ligament, or slips a disc from lifting, pulling, pushing, or turning an item. Overexertion can happen when a firefighting is pulling a fire hose or when an EMT is carrying someone in a stretcher.

What Issues Does South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Cover for First Responders?

If the accident occurred on the job and during the course of employment, first responders should be covered by South Carolina workers’ compensation laws.

Workers’ compensation will pay for:

  • Medical care
  • Lost wages
  • Permanent disability
  • Physical impairment, disfigurement, and loss of limbs
  • Reimbursement for mileage costs to see a physician or pick up medications
  • Death and burial benefits

South Carolina’s current laws state that in order for stress, mental injuries, and mental illness suffered due to work conditions “unaccompanied by physical injury” to warrant medical benefits, the conditions that caused the injury must have been “extraordinary and unusual in comparison to the normal conditions of the particular employment.”

First Responders and Trauma

First responders are at higher at risk of developing numerous medical and mental health issues due to the stressful nature of their jobs and the types of trauma they encounter. First responders are at a greater risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder, and other mental disorders.

First responders who develop PTSD also may develop substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Nightmares, flashbacks, and recurring thoughts
  • Emotional numbness
  • Anger, guilt, worry, and hopelessness
  • Avoidance of certain places and people that remind the victim of the traumatic event
  • Attempts to avoid reminders of the event
  • Loss of interest in activities that once brought happiness
  • Constantly feeling anxious or on edge
  • Cognitive issues, such as memory problems
  • Sleep issues and insomnia
  • Feeling detached from reality
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse

PTSD may not develop immediately after a first responder experiences a traumatic event. In some instances, PTSD symptoms may occur months after the traumatic event. Because emergency personnel are generally exposed to multiple stressful and traumatic events on a regular basis, they may develop PTSD symptoms from enduring multiple traumatic incidents that gradually wear down their resistance.

Repeated efforts by lawmakers to expand South Carolina’s workers’ compensation law to provide first responders with workers’ comp coverage for medical treatment for work-related PTSD have not been successful to date. However, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s administration has set aside $500,000 to help first responders with PTSD to receive mental stress management benefits as part of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program. To obtain benefits, the injured first responder must have a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Our workers’ compensation lawyers at Joye Law Firm are on the side of first responders and are ready to help you obtain all the medical benefits available following your work-related accident.

Choosing the right workers’ comp lawyers for injured first responders

The right South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer for you will be one who is experienced in handling first responder injury cases. A qualified attorney will review your case and determine the extent of your harm. Our skilled workers’ compensation lawyers at Joye Law Firm are well-versed in handling cases for first responders in South Carolina.

Missed notification deadlines and failure to seek prompt medical care are among the reasons that first responders’ workers’ compensation claims get denied. A first responder may try to work through an injury for a period of time before seeking medical treatment. This can cause an insurance administrator to question the seriousness of the injury. In South Carolina, an injured employee has 90 days to notify their employer of their injury or illness. In some cases, it is difficult to pinpoint precisely when an injury occurred. Our attorneys can organize your medical records to show how your injury or illness was related to your job and ensure that you meet all the necessary deadlines for filing your workers’ comp claim.

If your workers’ compensation claim has been denied, you may wonder what steps you can take next. There are many reasons why a claim may be denied. For instance, your employer may contend that your injury was not a direct result of your work but rather your life outside the job. Claims also can be denied due to missing filing deadlines. Our attorneys at Joye Law Firm know how to strengthen your case and address all the details as we fight for your rights to workers’ comp benefits.

At Joye Law Firm, we are proud to have represented many injured first responders throughout South Carolina. If you are a first responder, our experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys would like to review your case and discuss your options. We will make sure that your employer is correctly applying the statute and not unjustly withholding benefits. This is why it is so critical that you hire a workers’ compensation lawyer who handles these types of cases and knows what benefits you are entitled to.

Contact a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

At Joye Law Firm, our South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers will fight for the benefits and compensation that first responders need for medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and more. When police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and others suffer harm, we fight for their right to workers’ compensation benefits. If they are denied benefits, we will work tirelessly to see that the decision is overturned.

Joye Law Firm has offices in Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Clinton. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced South Carolina workers’ comp lawyers, call 877-936-9707 today.

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