An Ohio firefighter just won his workers’ compensation appeal without a fight.
In a rare move, Ohio authorities decided to step aside and allow a firefighter, who is suffering from terminal cancer, to receive benefits to replace his lost wages and future medical care related to his illness.
In addition, when the firefighter dies, his wife and five small children will be able to continue receiving compensation.
His death will be considered duty-related because the cancer is presumed to have developed due to his on-the-job exposure to airborne toxins.
In fact, he was recently featured in a series of investigative newspaper articles in an Ohio paper. The series was trying to bring attention to the agonizing epidemic of cancer among firefighters in the state.
The problem with firefighters getting workers’ compensation for cancer is that not all of them have the same type of cancer — nor is there a definitive collection of cancers that are attributed to the exposure to chemical toxins that are released into the air during a fire.
Just the same, Ohio finally developed a “presumptive cancer” rule for firefighters that allows them to claim workers’ compensation if they develop any type of cancer. Firefighters are only eligible in the absence of other proof that the cancer is work-related if they’ve worked at least six years in the profession when the cancer is diagnosed.
This law, which took effect April 1, 2017, brings Ohio into line with other states that have put similar laws in effect.
This particular firefighter’s initial claim for benefits had been denied, possibly because he was almost 3 months shy of the 6-year requirement. However, he provided the necessary documentation — a statement from his doctor affirming that the cancer he has is related to his job — allowing the case to move forward.
Cases like this show how important it is to persist with a workers’ compensation claim — even if you are initially denied.
Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “City drops appeal of firefighter’s workers’ compensation claim,” Mike Wagner, Dec. 1, 2017