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Workers' Compensation Blog

Jury Verdict In Favor Of Montgomery County Bus Driver

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

School bus drivers spend hours transporting children to and from school in order to ensure that they arrive in a safe and timely manner. After years of performing this vital service for the community, the wear and tear on the bodies of bus drivers can have a profound impact on their ability to do their jobs. Natalie Whittingham, Ken Berman, and their team at Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, LLC secured workers’ compensation benefits for a decades long school bus driver who developed chronic pain in her tailbone after years of bouncing up and down in an uncomfortable bus driver’s seat. The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission had found that the Claimant, who required three surgeries as a result of her tailbone pain, suffered an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of her employment for Montgomery County. The Employer, in an attempt to overturn this Order appealed to the Circuit Court. After an in depth three day long trial before a jury, which included expert testimony by two doctors, medical records, and the testimony of lay witnesses as to the hazards of the Claimant’s employment, the jury came back in favor of the claimant, upholding the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Ken and Natalie were able to defeat the County’s appeal and preserve the rights of the injured worker.

The Law of Occupational Disease

The most commonly known work related injuries, or “accidental injuries” occur when an employee is injured in an accident on the job at a particular time and on a particular day. Some examples of accidental injuries include slips, falls and car accidents. However, some work related injuries occur only after many years of the worker repeatedly performing their job duties. The onset may be slow in nature and results from the conditions of the employment. These are known as “occupational diseases”. Examples of an occupational disease could include carpal tunnel syndrome, in this case coccydynia (like the Claimant here suffered), lung cancer and hypertension. Injured workers who suffer occupational diseases may be covered, even where there is some other disorder or condition which contributes to the occupational disease. Here, the Claimant developed the occupational disease of coccydynia after many years of bouncing around in uncomfortable bus driver seats around the same time that she experienced rapid weight loss. The jury found that where the occupation of bus driving was even only a partial cause of the disorder, the claim was covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

What To Do If You Think You’ve Suffered An Occupational Disease

The law of occupational diseases is a complex area of the Workers’ Compensation Act and requires an attorney with experience to navigate its intricacies. In order to pursue a claim for disablement caused by an occupational disease, a medical opinion, relating your employment to your disorder is required and a claim must be filed within a certain amount of time of receiving that medical opinion. If you believe that you’ve suffered an occupational disease from repeated exposure to the physical or chemical hazards of your employment, it is imperative that you contact an attorney right away. If you are injured at work, contact Ken Berman, Esq. at (301) 740-3300 or Natalie E. Whittingham, Esq. at (301) 670-6546.

Workers’ Compensation Claims Process - How long does it take to get a hearing and what is a “consideration date?

Friday, July 14, 2017

One of the most common questions I receive from clients concerns how long it takes to get a hearing before the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. As with any court or judicial body, the Commission sets its own schedule and the claimants and attorneys appearing before it are subject to that schedule. Generally speaking, however, it is a safe assumption that your hearing will be scheduled within three to four months from the date you file your claim or request a hearing. This can vary based on your hearing venue. For example, hearings are scheduled much quicker in Baltimore or Beltsville (the hearing sites with a higher volume and where hearings are held more frequently), than in La Vale or Cambridge (where hearings are held less frequently based on a lesser volume).

What is the “Consideration Date?”

The claim process begins when you file an “Employee Claim Form” with the Commission. This document asks you basic demographic and injury-specific questions. Once this is submitted, the Commission will send a Notice of Claim to your employer and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, referred to as the insurer. On the bottom-right of this Notice of Claim, you will find a “Consideration Date,” which is typically about a month from the date your original Employee Claim Form was filed. Your employer and insurer have until this date to either accept or contest your claim. If they contest the claim, they will file Contesting Issues with the Commission and you will have to wait for a hearing to present the evidence of your work-related injury or illness. You cannot request a hearing on your own behalf until after the “consideration date,” has passed. That’s why it is so important to file your claim as soon as possible.

My Employer and Insurer filed Contesting Issues; what next?

When your employer and insurer file Contesting Issues, they are, in effect, opposing the claim until the Commission can hold a hearing to determine the validity of your claim. As stated above, this will typically be scheduled anywhere between three to four months from the date your claim is initially filed. At this first hearing, you will be called upon to testify and present evidence of your work-related injury or illness, including medical records supporting your claim. After the hearing, the Commissioner will decide whether or not your injury or illness is covered by the workers’ compensation laws of Maryland. However, up until that time, you will not be able to recover any workers’ compensation benefits such as temporary total disability. You may or may not receive medical coverage. For this reason, it is all the more urgent that you consult with an attorney to determine your options and to prepare for this hearing.

How can my hearing be scheduled on an emergency basis?

In some circumstances, you can request the Commission to schedule your hearing sooner based on an “emergency” situation. For example, if you are unable to work on account of your injury or illness and have received collection notices on past-due bills or if you require emergency medical treatment, then the Commission may schedule your hearing sooner, within a matter of weeks rather than months. However, you must submit documents to support the urgency and these requests are not always granted.

If you have any questions or require assistance with your work-related injury or illness, please do not hesitate, contact Matthew Engler, Esq. today at 301-740-3322 or mengler@bsgfdlaw.com.

Ken Berman Expands Law as to PTSD for Fire Fighters

Friday, September 23, 2016

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a huge issue among first responders and can quickly develop into a serious and life threatening condition. Studies show that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can lead to dangerous and suicidal thoughts among those who suffer from it. A study published by the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2015 found that “Fire Fighters report an alarmingly high career prevalence of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.” More than half of those study participants reported encountering suicidal thoughts at one or more points during their career.

PTSD and Workers’ Compensation Claims

For many years, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was not recognized as a compensable workers’ compensation claim. In the 1980s and 1990s Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby LLP persuaded the Workers’ Compensation Commission to begin to recognize Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as compensable. It was normally limited, however, to instances of specific horrific incidents occurring.

Active and Retired Fire Fighters Who Suffer from PTSD

For decades Ken Berman has represented fire fighters and first responders who have suffered from PTSD. In two recent cases, Mr. Berman convinced the Commission that fire fighters and first responders can suffer from PTSD from every day stresses and strains and that coverage for PTSD should not just be limited to problems arising from one specific event. Mr. Berman argued that the day to day stresses and strains, cumulative in nature, were equally, if not more, harmful and devastating and should be covered under the law. The Commission, based upon the above arguments, along with appropriate testimony and medical records, agreed. In both cases the fire department argued that such day to day traumatic events are “just part of the job” of a public safety employee. Mr. Berman turned that defense on its head and argued that this was precisely the point. If it is a part of the job and intertwined with it then it should be covered.

The two new decisions are important given that studies show that anywhere between 7% and 37% of fire fighters suffer from PTSD and that the likelihood of suffering from PTSD increases with the number of traumatic situations an individual is exposed to.

Getting Help for PTSD

If you believe you are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or know someone that might be, seek immediate help from a qualified medical professional. If you are worried about a co-worker, talk to them about your concerns. Providing a supportive environment built on mutual experiences can prove to be extremely beneficial to your fellow fire fighters. If you have any questions on any of the above or wish to discuss any matter, in a confidential environment, please feel free to contact Berman, Sobin, Gross and Darby at 1-800-827-COMP(2667).

Facts About Injuries for Fire Fighters and First Responders

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fire fighters get injured at work more than the general population. If that seems logical to those who perform the job, now there are official numbers to back it up. In 2014 there were 63,350 fire fighter injuries which occurred in the line of duty, a decrease of 3.8% from 2013 when there were nearly 65,880 line of duty fire fighter injuries. While this number, thankfully, is the fewest since 1981, and 2013 represented a 5% drop from the number of injuries to fire fighters in 2012, it is still much higher, proportionately, than for any other occupation. This is especially worrisome when one considers that the number of fires has decreased by 57.1% since 1981.

1 Injury Occurs Every 8 Minutes

Thus, while the number of total injuries for fire fighters has gone down slightly over the last two decades, the number of fires since 1981 has decreased at a much greater rate. The number of injuries remain much higher for first responders than anyone else. It amounts to one fire fighter injury occurring every 8 minutes. In fact, according to the Harvard School of Medicine, putting out a fire has a 100 times higher risk of death than working in a non-emergency situation. Although many people assume that burns and smoke inhalation are the cause of most fire fighter fatalities; heart disease (coronary artery disease) is actually the single most frequent cause of duty-related deaths.

WHERE the Injuries Occur

A look behind the numbers nationwide in 2014 show that forty three percent (43%) of fire fighter injuries occur at or on the fire grounds, while seventeen percent (17%) occur during other on-duty activities. Six percent (6%) arise from responding to or returning from an incident, while eleven percent (11%) happened during training activities. Finally, twenty three percent (23%) occurred at non-fire emergency incidents. The highest rate of injuries (per 100 fire fighters) were, perhaps not surprisingly, among departments that protected populations of one million citizens or more and the fewest were to fire fighters that protected populations of fewer than 25,000.

Exposure To More Than Burns and Scars

In addition to injuries, NFPA estimates that in 2013 (the last calendar year for which reportable numbers exist) there were 7,100 exposures nationwide to infectious disease (such as hepatitis, meningitis, HIV) and 17,400 exposures to hazardous conditions (asbestos, radioactive materials, chemicals, etc.)

Public Safety Workers’ Compensation Claim Rates

The national numbers are mirrored in the State of Maryland. Out of all the workers’ compensation claims filed in the State of Maryland, a disproportionate number have been for public safety employees.

2015 2014 2013
# of Claims 23,711 24,211 23,241
# FF Claims 754 (3.2%) 799 (3.3%) 769 (3.3%)

If you know of fire fighter, first responder, or EMS worker who has been injured on the job have them call me for a confidential consultation.

Injuries from Prescription Related Side Effects for Firefighters

Friday, September 23, 2016

Over the years, I have represented thousands of you for claims arising out of work related, as well as non-work related, injuries and/or diseases. Unfortunately, not only have you had to worry about the injuries and the diseases themselves, other concerns have arisen besides the dangers of your profession. Recently, many of the treatments for these problems have been declared dangerous and life threatening.

Side Effects From Xarelto and Other Prescription Meds

For instance many individuals have been prescribed Xarelto as a blood thinner. Xarelto, as you may already know, has been the subject of lawsuits because it has been found that Xarelto can lead to uncontrollable internal bleeding and other serious complications, including heart problems and/or strokes. In addition, for those who have work related or even non-work related problems or diseases, manufacturers of medical devices and IVC, have recalled their products. Inferior Vena Cava Filters (known as “IVCs”) are designed to prevent life threatening pulmonary embolisms. Some of these filter failures have resulted in deaths.

Furthermore, a well-known consequence of hypertension is a loss of potency. The FDA alerted consumers and healthcare providers that a small number of men have lost eyesight after taking Viagra, Cialis or Levitra.

How We Can Help You, Or, Someone You Care About

Berman, Sobin Gross, Feldman, and Darby, LLP has been at the forefront in resolving the cases involving unsafe drugs and medical devices and protecting injured workers, and their families. If you believe you have been harmed by any of these products or by such products as Pinnacle DuPey® Hip Replacements, Taxotere®, or Essure®, please contact me at (301) 670-7030. In the meantime, stay safe.

Hard Fought Court Victory for Widow of Deceased Fire Fighter

Friday, September 23, 2016

Attorney Ken Berman has secured death benefits for the widow of a deceased fire fighter in a three (3) day jury trial. The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission had found that the Claimant, a fire fighter who was not diagnosed with multiple myeloma until 23 years after last running a call, did not sustain a compensable occupational disease. The Commission denied the widow’s claim for the death of her husband due to the long gap between the fire fighter’s exposure (1989) and the diagnosis of the disease (2012), as well as the fire fighter’s family history of cancer.

Occupational Diseases for Fire Fighters

After three days of testimony, including Mr. Berman subpoenaing the former assistant chief of the department to testify as to exposures fire fighters encounter and past lack of safety measures, the Jury returned a verdict overturning the Commission and in favor of the Claimant- finding that his occupational disease of multiple myeloma was indeed related to the fire fighter’s exposures in the department.

What This Means for The Family

The court victory means that the widow will now receive death benefits, payment for the funeral expenses, and payment for all past medical bills and other expenses.

Hearing Loss and Tinnitis Claims - Maryland Workers' Compensation Law

Monday, September 19, 2016

By Clifford B. Sobin, Esq.


Occupational Deafness claims under Maryland Workers Compensation generally involve two different medical problems. The first is actual inability to hear sounds. This is referred to as hearing loss. The second often shows up as "ringing in the ears" and frequently is caused by tinnitus. Despite the fact that they both impact your ability to hear and understand what other say, they are treated differently by Maryland law.

This blog entry is part of a three part series.

  • This blog post discusses hearing loss.
  • My next blog will cover tinnitus.
  • The third in this series will talk be about money you may receive if your case is found compensable and the importance of filing a claim due to the potential future expense of hearing aids.

How Much Hearing Loss Do You need to File a Claim?

Unfortunately, not all hearing loss that you may have is covered. Typically, occupational hearing loss first appears at the higher frequencies. If your employer provides hearing tests, as is the case with many fire fighters, the records will include a chart that summarizes the testing results. The same is the case if you go to your private physician.

Usually, if you have hearing loss it will first show up at the higher frequencies; between 4,000 and 6,000 hertz. Although that type of loss is annoying because it means you have difficulty hearing high pitched sounds and perhaps voices on the telephone – it is not covered under Maryland Worker's Compensation law. Only frequency loss in the 500 to 3,000 range is covered. And then, only if the average is more than 25 decibels of loss and your age was less than fifty when you were last exposed to noise (your hearing tests will show the loss at 500, 1000, 2000, and 3000 herz).

If you were older than fifty when last exposed to loud noise on your job, the average goes up by one half decibel for each year. Therefore, if your last exposure was at age 54, you need more than an average of 27 decibels of loss.

Which Employer Pays?

Generally, the last employer you worked for when last exposed to loud noise is responsible for paying your hearing loss claim if you worked there for at least ninety days. However, that employer has the right to try to lay off some of the responsibility to pay you if they can prove your prior employers caused some of your hearing loss. But that is their problem, not yours.

However, if you worked for more than one employer at the same time of your last noise exposure, and you were exposed to loud noise while working for both, then things get a little bit more complicated. Frequently, both employers will be added to your Workers' Compensation claim and both will share the responsibility to pay you.

How Long Do You have To File a Hearing Loss Claim?

The easy answer is two years, but two years from what? To be on the safe side you should seek legal advice as soon as you think you are suffering from hearing loss. It is a simple matter for your attorney to review your medical records and determine if it is time to consider filing a claim. I usually ask my clients to forward me their last hearing test and then I tell them in a quick telephone call if they should move forward. If you are curious for yourself, I invite you to contact me. There is no charge for me reviewing the records.

But what if it has been more than two years since you first have had tests showing hearing loss? The simple answer is … it's complicated. There is an appellate case that said an employee filed his claim too late because he waited more than two years from when he was told by his doctor that he had hearing loss caused by his job and – this is important – the test showed a level of hearing loss that was covered under Maryland law. The bottom line is the following factors matter:

  • When were you advised that you have hearing loss?
  • What were the test results when you were told?
  • Did your physician say it was occupationally related?
  • Has your employment changed since your last test and has your hearing worsened in the new employment?
  • Has it been more than two years since you first have had hearing test that is compensable under Maryland law?

Unfortunately, as you might guess by now, I can't provide you with a definite answer for you to be sure how long you have to file a claim. To what extent the factors above make a difference is very fact specific. Only an attorney can make an informed decision and provide you with the proper advice customized to you.


Maryland Workers’ Compensation Dependency Benefits – The 2011 Legislation

Friday, September 16, 2016

By Clifford Sobin, Esq.

As of October 1, 2011, Maryland’s manner of compensating dependents of employees who die due to injuries or diseases sustained as a result of their job has changed! The new law will immediately impact all employees and their dependents other than employees of municipal corporations or counties that have a right to claim their:

1) heart disease

2) hypertension

3) lung disease

4) Lymes disease; or

5) cancer

is presumed to be caused by the job. These presumptions are given to all fire fighters and police officers, some deputy sheriffs and correctional officers, and some employees of the Maryland- National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The excluded employees may be included at a later date if the county or municipal corporation they work for “opt in” to the new statute.

The changes eliminate the distinction that has existed for decades between partially and fully independent individuals. The distinction created windfalls for some and despair for others. Until the new law, a dependent whose spouse was killed in a tragic occupational injury would usually receive benefits:

1) if she was found fully dependent for life (with some exceptions) at the rate of 2/3 the deceased’s average weekly wage, not to exceed the State average weekly wage, for the rest of her life; or

2) if she was found partially dependent (with some exceptions) at the rate of 2/3 the deceased’s average weekly wage, not to exceed the State average weekly wage, but only until $75,000.00 is paid out.

It was, and still is for those that remain impacted by it, a terribly unfair law. If the deceased’s spouse was working a part time job at the time of the job related death, the spouse would receive only $75,000 compared to potentially over a million dollars for the spouse who was not working. There was no in between!

Rather than focusing on the amount each individual receives, the new law focuses on the amount of the payment. The intent is that dependency payments reflect the amount of support the decedent provided.

To achieve the new “fairness” the Act introduces the new concept of “family income”. Family income is the total of the average weekly wage (hereinafter referred to as AWW) of the deceased, combined with the AWW of all of the dependents. The AWW of the deceased is based on the deceased’s AWW at the time of the accidental injury of disablement from occupational disease.

Once the family income is calculated, the deceased’s AWW is:

a) divided by the family income and reduced to a percentage;

b) the percentage is multiplied by the maximum death benefit which is equivalent to two-thirds of the decedents AWW not to exceed the State AWW;

c) the total represents the maximum cumulative amount that is paid to all dependents; and

d) the only exception to this rule is if the decedent’s AWW was $100.00 or less, then the weekly dependency benefit shall be equal to the AWW without any reduction based on the percentage calculation discussed above.

The following example brings clarity to the arcane discussion above. Assume:

1) Decedent’s AWW = $1200.00

2) Dependent 1 AWW = $200.00

3) Dependent 2 AWW = $100.00

Calculations

 a) Total family income is $1500.00 ($1200 +$200 +$100)

b) Maximum death benefit is $800 (2/3 of decedent AWW of $1200)

c) Percentage of Decedent’s income to family income is calculated as follows: decedent’s AWW-1200/ family income-1500 = 2/3 or .667 percent

d) Amount payable to all dependents collectively is $533.34 calculated by multiplying .667 (percentage of decedent’s income to family income) * $800 (maximum death benefit)

The payments are made for a maximum of twelve years retroactive to the date of the death of the decedent unless one of the following occurs:

1) the dependent’s dependency ceases;

2) the dependent is a spouse that remarries, in which case the spouse’s benefits cease two years after the marriage;

3) the dependent(s) are not children of the deceased or the deceased’s spouse, in which case the maximum total payment to that class of dependents is $65,000.00, modified by annual State AWW adjustments beginning January 1, 2012;

4) the date the deceased would have reached the age of seventy years old if the deceased had not died, in which case dependency benefits cease unless dependency benefits have been paid for less than five years in which case benefits continue until five years of dependency benefits have been paid; or

5) a child reaches the age of eighteen unless the child continues to attend school on a full-time basis at a school that offers an educational or accredited vocational training program accredited or approved by the State Department of Education, in which case the child can continue to receive dependency benefits until the age of twenty-three; or

6) A dependent child or spouse remains incapable of self-support (due to mental or physical disabilities that pre-existed the decedent’s death) after their benefits would otherwise be ended, they will continue to receive benefits until their disability ends.

The Workers’ Compensation Commission determines the amount of benefit each dependent receives

The Workers’ Compensation Commission is granted broad discretion to apportion the amount of benefit each dependent receives when there is more than one dependent. The only guidance provided by the statute is that the determination must be “just and equitable”.

 

Key Differences In The Vocational Rehabilitation Process In Maryland And The District Of Columbia

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Vocational Benefits

The Workers’ Compensation statutes in both the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia offer a benefit to injured workers who desire to return to work: called Vocational Rehabilitation (often called “Voc Rehab” for short). Vocational Rehabilitation arises in a workers’ compensation case when the injured worker’s medical treatment is complete, or near complete, and the worker is given permanent restrictions from his/her doctor that prevent him/her from physically performing the work they were able to perform before the work injury. During the Voc Rehab process, the injured worker receives assistance from a licensed vocational expert so that they can, together, strive towards getting back to work with another employer and within the injured workers’ permanent physical limitations. The injured worker receives pay from the workers’ compensation insurance company during vocational rehabilitation: while he/she is applying for jobs, taking classes, or going through retraining.

One scenario in which an injured worker is able to receive Voc Rehab services (placement, training or schooling) and benefits would be, for example, if the injured worker was employed before the injury as a security officer which required standing for 8 hours a day, and lifting up to 50lbs. Yet, because of his work injury his/her treating physician documents that he/she is now only able to stand for 2 hours a day, and lift only up to 20lbs. The injured worker would be entitled to receive Vocational Rehabilitation services and benefits in both the District and in Maryland. If that same security officer was released to full-duty work, and had no permanent limitations on his ability to lift or stand, then he/she would not be entitled to Vocational Rehabilitation and would be expected to return back to his pre-injury job, even if his work activities caused him some physical discomfort doing his/her job.

Often times, the permanent work limitations are given by the treating physician at the time the injured worker is being discharged from his doctor’s care. A test, called a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE), offers a more detailed analysis as to what the injured worker can and cannot do. The FCE usually takes place at a physical therapy facility, although not all physical therapy facilities perform FCE’s. The FCE typically lasts approximately 4 hours. Upon completion of the FCE, a detailed report is issued stating how much the injured worker can lift, push, pull, and carry, and for how long he can sit, stand, walk, and run. If the FCE evaluator feels the injured worker has permanent work restrictions that prevent him or her from returning to the job they had at the time of the injury, then vocational rehabilitation will begin.

Comparing Maryland And The District Of Columbia

There are several key differences in the Voc Rehab process in Maryland and the District of Columbia. For example, in Maryland the Workers’ Compensation Regulations state that the parties to the Claim may agree on the Vocational Counselor that will be assisting the injured worker with getting back to full-time work within his/her permanent work restrictions. If no agreement is reached, the Commission will pick the Vocational Counselor from a list.

In the District of Columbia, however, there is no such provision, and the vocational counselor is typically selected by the workers’ compensation insurance company, or the company’s attorney. Therefore, injured workers in DC are often at a disadvantage.

The manner in which the injured worker is scrutinized in Maryland versus the District during the Vocational Rehabilitation process is also vastly different. In Maryland, Voc Rehab is offered to injured workers typically in three-month increments. If the injured worker in Maryland is “compliant” during those first three months, the vocational rehabilitation process will be extended for another three months, and another three months after that, until the Claimant finds a job or the insurance carrier finds a reason to deem the injured worker as being “non-compliant”. One example of how noncompliance is alleged is by stating that the injured worker was not applying to enough jobs each week, or was showing up late to their weekly meetings with the Voc Rehab counselor. In the District of Columbia, however, vocational rehabilitation can go on for years without ever having to request or wait for an extension of time from the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster.

Thus, while in Maryland the vocational process is evaluated on a monthly basis by the insurance adjuster, in the District of Columbia, injured workers who are receiving Voc Rehab benefits are often left to their own devices. The Rehabilitation counselors typically do not write detailed monthly reports commenting on everything that was done and/or not done by the injured worker, and so the injured worker’s level of participation during Voc Rehab in DC is not scrutinized or judged as closely as it is in Maryland. The same goes for the level of participation of the Voc Rehab counselor in the District who or is not required to write monthly reports in the District as they are in Maryland. For example, were classes or re-training discussed and offered officially? If so, when? Was the counselor late to meetings as well? These details control the Vocational Rehabilitation process in Maryland, and determine the extent to which Voc Rehab will take place, and how long Vocational Rehabilitation services and benefits are offered to the injured worker. In the District of Columbia, those details are often lacking.

In sum, there are many benefits and some detriments to each jurisdiction’s workers’ compensation laws. There is no perfect system. The best thing for the injured worker to do is to follow the laws and procedures of the jurisdiction in which their injury took place, and to do so with the assistance of an attorney they trust. If additional information is needed as to the Vocational Rehabilitation process, I can be reached at: LPisano@bsgfdlaw.com, or on my direct work line of: 301-740-3304.

By Lisa Pisano

Facts About Injuries For Fire Fighters And First Responders

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Fire fighters get injured at work more than the general population. If that seems logical to those who perform the job, now there are official numbers to back it up. In 2014 there were 63,350 fire fighter injuries which occurred in the line of duty, a decrease of 3.8% from 2013 when there were nearly 65,880 line of duty fire fighter injuries. While this number, thankfully, is the fewest since 1981, and 2013 represented a 5% drop from the number of injuries to fire fighters in 2012, it is still much higher, proportionately, than for any other occupation. This is especially worrisome when one considers that the number of fires has decreased by 57.1% since 1981.

1 Injury Occurs Every 8 Minutes

Thus, while the number of total injuries for fire fighters has gone down slightly over the last two decades, the number of fires since 1981 has decreased at a much greater rate. The number of injuries remain much higher for first responders than anyone else. It amounts to one fire fighter injury occurring every 8 minutes. In fact, according to the Harvard School of Medicine, putting out a fire has a 100 times higher risk of death than working in a non-emergency situation. Although many people assume that burns and smoke inhalation are the cause of most fire fighter fatalities heart disease (coronary artery disease) is actually the single most frequent cause of duty-related deaths.

Where The Injuries Occur

A look behind the numbers nationwide in 2014 show that forty three percent (43%) of fire fighter injuries occur at or on the fire grounds, while seventeen percent (17%) occur during other on-duty activities. Six percent (6%) arise from responding to or returning from an incident, while eleven percent (11%) happened during training activities. Finally, twenty three percent (23%) occurred at non-fire emergency incidents. The highest rate of injuries (per 100 fire fighters) were, perhaps not surprisingly, among departments that protected populations of one million citizens or more and the fewest were to fire fighters that protected populations of fewer than 25,000.

Exposure To More Than Burns And Scars

In addition to injuries, NFPA estimates that in 2013 (the last calendar year for which reportable numbers exist) there were 7,100 exposures nationwide to infectious disease (such as hepatitis, meningitis, HIV) and 17,400 exposures to hazardous conditions (asbestos, radioactive materials, chemicals, etc.)

Public Safety Workers’ Compensation Claim Rates

The national numbers are mirrored in the State of Maryland. Out of all the workers’ compensation claims filed in the State of Maryland, a disproportionate number have been for public safety employees.

  2015 2014 2013
# of Claims 23,711 24,211 23,241
# FF Claims 754 (3.2%) 799 (3.3%) 769 (3.3%)

If you know of fire fighter, first responder, or EMS worker who has been injured on the job have them call me for a confidential consultation.

By Ken Berman

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Martin


"I received the check today. I could not believe it until I saw the check. Thank you so much. You have improved my family's quality of life tenfold."

Mike F.


"These guys go above and beyond! They always have your best interest in mind."

Mike W.


"I would like to express my thanks to Amanda Knott and Gretchen Rogers for their patience with me through my ordeal with my workers comp claim. I was impressed from the very beginning when I spoke with G. Rogers on the phone and although she did not have to, she met with me personally and walked me through the steps of what to expect in this process."

Mr Sagal


"You have been kind throughout this process and I appreciate your professionalism as well as your gentle concern. Thanks for helping us and all the others who need your legal expertise. We are grateful."

Nancy F.


"Thanks to Mr. Shultz's aggressive and professional work ethic style I was able to receive the medical services and compensation pertaining to my case."

Navdeep C.


"I can honestly say this firm is simply TOP NOTCH! They not only have handled countless cases for my members that require their services, they also have gone well beyond their "scope" to help some of my folks in other areas of need. "

Rick H.


"The attention and professional care the staff has taken toward my needs has always been excellent. I have no complaints nor worries that my issues discussed are not addressed."

Tim T.


"I just got off the phone with Craig and let him know how thankful we are to you, him and Ken for all your efforts – you are all really terrific to work with!"

Val K.


Locations Throughout Maryland, Virginia & Washington DC

Gaithersburg Office

481 N. Frederick Avenue, Suite 300
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
301-670-7030 / 800-248-3352
Fax: 301-670-9492

Lutherville Office

1301 York Road, Suite 600
Lutherville, MD 21093
410-769-5400 / 800-248-3352
Fax: 410-769-9200

Frederick Office

30 W. Patrick Street, Suite 105
Frederick, MD 21701
301-668-2100 / 800-827-2667
Fax: 301-668-2000

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