PA Firefighters Cancer Presumption Act Rights
The Pennsylvania Firefighter Cancer Presumption Act, Pennsylvania Act 46 of 2011, establishes that when a firefighter is diagnosed with cancer, that cancer is presumed to have been caused by work-related exposure, so long the firefighter establishes four years of firefighting service and direct exposure to a listed carcinogen. The firefighter must also have previously passed a physical examination without any indication of cancer. Both volunteer firefighters and paid firefighters are covered. Note also that where volunteer firefighters are disabled from working by a work-related injury, other provisions of the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act provide for wage loss benefits even where the worker's firefighting career was unpaid.
Where the Firefighter Cancer Presumption is shown to apply, the employer then has the burden to overcome the legal presumption that the firefighter's cancer is work-related. The employer may only do so by presenting substantial competent evidence showing that the cancer was NOT caused by firefighting.
The "listed carcinogens" are those identified as "Group I" carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
A firefighter's direct exposure to a Group I carcinogen may be established by reference to reports filed to the Pennsylvania Fire Information Report System (PennFIRS).
The presumption is applicable to all claims made within 300 weeks from the firefighter's last date of service (about 5.5 years), though the Act does allow for claims made as much as 600 weeks (about 11.5 years) after the last date of service.
The law supplements other provisions of the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act and the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act, both of which provide special rights to firefighters who are injured on the job or who develop diseases due to work-related exposures. For example, prior laws have recognized the high incidence of heart attack and heart disease among firefighters, and have created certain presumptions intended to make proof of a work-related causal connection much easier than would be the case for others -- even where the firefighter never suffers a heart attack within the work environment.
If you have worked fighting fires, we thank you for your service! We hope we can now serve you, to establish the presumption afforded under the Firefighters Cancer Presumption Act and/or any other favorable legal presumptions advancing your rights under the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act and/or Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act, to get you the benefits you need and deserve as quickly as possible, so that you can focus on pursuing your treatment and beating your disease.
A final note, with our apologies: Cancer is a serious matter. There are times when a cancer diagnosis ultimately proves to be terminal. Death from a cancer diagnosis shown to be work related can create a substantial entitlement to life-time benefits to a surviving spouse, as well as long-term benefits to children who are minors or full time students. These are extremely valuable benefits for the surviving spouse or children -- and also extremely costly to the defending employer or insurance company. To avoid paying such costly "fatal claim" survivorship benefits to spouse and children, insurance carriers may be motivated to approve extra treatment costs and actively engage in helping the injured worker win his or her battle with cancer or other covered occupational diseases. In this context, an embattled patient may have more leverage over a workers' compensation insurance carrier than might be the case over a private health insurer.
Pursuing workers' compensation rights in the face of the Firefighters' Cancer Presumption Act also opens up very substantial possibilities for lump sum recoveries that would not be available absent the presumption, where that is desired by the claimant. Employers and Insurers faced with costly liability may agree to pay a very substantial sum, and to make other accommodations (such as affording an early full value retirement, for example), to avoid the expenses and burdens of their obligations under the Workers' Compensation Act. Employers and insurers faced with litigation in which the firefighter's presumption is brought to bear, may be fully motivated to negotiate a lump sum settlement of the firefighter's rights. Where the firefighter has other insurance and/or where other circumstances direct that a significant lump sum settlement would be preferred over the alternative course of putting the legal presumption to the test with a Judge's decision, we can act to ensure that those negotiations conclude on terms that are fully favorable to our client and his or her family.
The bottom line is that we know the law, we know how to use the law to the advantage of our client firefighters suffering cancer after career exposure to carcinogens, and we always keep the best interests of our client first and foremost. See our client reviews. Put your trust in attorney Tim Kennedy, a specialist in Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Law certified by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Workers' Compensation Section, on authority of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Call us today to discuss your rights. Tim Kennedy: (484)453-8144
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Getting us involved early costs you nothing. We work on a contingency, and we only get paid when we win for you in court or negotiate a lump sum settlement you approve. We can help position your claim so that you may avoid a fight in court, while at the same time strengthening your position for a large lump sum settlement. Call us now to find out how.