Common Injuries for First Responders: Fireman and Police Officer Workers’ Compensation Settlements

Category: Personal Injury

Article by Tuley Law staff

Common Injuries for First Responders: Fireman and Police Officer Workers’ Compensation Settlements

Emergency first responders are at an increased risk of workplace injury because their jobs require them to be in hazardous situations. When these personnel are injured on the job, the financial and physical consequences could cause serious issues in their life.

If they are unable to work, their main source of income goes away. If they cannot pay their medical bills, they might go into deep debt. If they die as a result of their workplace injury, their families are likely to face both emotional and financial difficulties moving forward.

Indiana’s workers’ compensation laws apply to first responders who are injured or killed while on the job. In some cases, first responders may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against the negligent party, but not if they were responding to an emergency.

If you are a first responder—or a family member of one—who has been injured in a workplace accident, contact a Tuley Law Office workers’ compensation lawyer to learn more about your legal options. Our Evansville personal injury attorneys can give you insight that will help you move forward after the accident occurs.

Common First Responder Injuries in Indianapolis

First responders are often rightly praised for their bravery and courage. This is because they must deal with a variety of hazardous situations during their day-to-day work duties. Their jobs involve physical exertion, mental stress, and unnatural sleep schedules.

The strain, fatigue, and inconsistency can lead to a variety of issues for the responders’ physical and mental health. Beyond these factors, responders may also have to deal with different chemicals, dangerous people, and/or harsh environments.

All of this can combine to lead to injuries for police officers, firefighters, EMS personnel, and other first responders.

Police Officer Accident Examples

Law enforcement agents encounter dangerous situations as a part of their job. Sheriff’s deputies and police officers have been known to suffer from a greater number of fatal work injuries as compared to other agents.

Statistics surrounding police officer deaths are gathered by the FBI each year for their Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) program. Other law enforcement agents accounted for in these reports include detectives, criminal investigators, bailiffs, jailers, correctional officers, and associated supervisors.

Some common causes of nonfatal injuries in law enforcement agents and police officers include the following:

  • Physical attacks and assault
  • Overexertion
  • Falls, trips, and slips
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Explosions
  • Fires
  • High-impact collisions with objects or equipment
  • Harmful substance exposure

Fatal accidents for first responders are less common, and are more likely to be caused by the following:

  • Shooting accidents
  • Homicide
  • High-speed auto accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents

Most Common Injuries for Police Officers

The injuries police officers or other law enforcement agents sustain from accidents are not always the same. Sometimes a severe accident will only lead to mild injury, and vice versa. First responders should always be prepared to deal with any situation because the circumstances of their workplace are fairly unpredictable.

Here are some injuries that law enforcement officers might sustain while on the job:

  • Bruises
  • Chemical burns
  • Contusions
  • Cuts or lacerations
  • Fractured bones
  • Soreness
  • Strains and sprains
  • Tendonitis
  • Traumatic injuries

While the chance of sustaining some of these injuries can be reduced by following certain protocols and using the proper equipment, sometimes officers just don’t have that option. If you sustain one of these injuries as a result of your work, you may be liable for workers’ compensation.

Firefighter Accident Examples

Law enforcement agents encounter a multitude of situations where people are acting illegally, which can be dangerous. Firefighters are inherently expected to enter extremely hazardous environments as a part of their job description. Even if they do not charge into a burning building, the surrounding area can pose a variety of risks to the responder.

Some of the potential nonfatal threats to firefighters include the following:

  • Fires or explosions
  • Extreme weather conditions
  • Exposure to dangerous substances
  • Overexertion
  • Falls, trips, and slips
  • Falling or moving objects
  • Violence from others
  • Vehicle crashes

Potential causes for fatalities include the following:

  • Fires in a collapsing building
  • Inhaling too much smoke
  • Being attacked by a person or animal
  • Explosions within a burning building
  • Falling from significant heights
  • High-speed motor vehicle accidents

Common Injuries for Firefighters

It is always worth celebrating when nobody is harmed in a situation such as a large fire. If all civilians are successfully evacuated and no firefighters are injured, the first responders have done their job. However, in the case that a firefighter is injured, there may be additional steps to satisfy certain financial requirements.

A firefighter may be eligible for workers’ compensation if they sustain one of the following injuries:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Bruises
  • Cuts
  • Respiratory issues from smoke inhalation
  • Soreness or pain
  • Strains and sprains
  • Temperature-related conditions

Workers’ compensation would likely cover medical expenses and/or any lost wages if the firefighter was unable to work as a result of their injury.

Firemans Rule: When it comes to firefighters getting injured on the job, there is an important law at play in most states—including Indiana—which limits compensation. The Fireman’s Rule states that a firefighter cannot sue or hold liable the owner of the property on which they sustained their injury, even if that owner’s negligence or mistake ultimately resulted in the firefighter’s injury.

In Indiana, this rule is upheld as a matter of public policy because citizens provide support to firefighters through benefits and taxes. Some other states also mention the assumption of risk, an idea that states being a firefighter is a dangerous job. Therefore, when you take on the role of a firefighter, you are acknowledging the dangers that come with it and can no longer blame others for the consequences.

There are multiple gray areas with the Fireman’s Rule that can make it difficult to enforce, such as the scale of a disaster which could require compensation, whether or not an individual could have prevented an injury by providing certain information, and if the nature of the conduct in high-pressure situations is genuine.

Emergency Medical Service Accident Examples

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics are responsible for providing medical care to the victim of an accident. EMTs must respond to emergency calls, administer medical services at the scene of an accident, and transport patients back to facilities for further medical treatment.

Nonfatal injuries of EMS personnel are caused by the following:

  • Vehicle crashes or pedestrian accidents
  • Falls, trips, and slips
  • Exposure to harmful environments
  • Explosions
  • Overexertion
  • Improper lifting techniques
  • Handling a sick person

Fatal injuries for EMS personnel are more likely to result from the following causes:

  • Severe motor vehicle accidents
  • Exposure to dangerous substances
  • Rescues from burning buildings
  • Violence from a person or animal

Common Injuries for EMS Personnel

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics have a relatively high rate of illness and injury compared to other occupations. Consistent high-stress situations and exposure to dangerous diseases puts them at constant risk.

These responders are also required to do a lot of lifting, kneeling, and bending while performing their duties that are often rushed. The combination of these expectations can lead to the following injuries:

  • Back pain
  • Broken bones
  • Contusions
  • Cuts
  • Illness
  • Nerve damage
  • Soreness throughout limbs
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Strains and sprains

Many of these accidents are out of the responder’s control, but it is possible to reduce the chances of some occurring. Using the proper techniques to lift and care for people can slightly lower the risk of chronic joint injuries. Wearing the right equipment before performing a rescue can be essential to avoiding harmful substance exposure.

First Responder Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury

While workers’ compensation and personal injury claims are meant to compensate for the injuries in the same way, there are some key differences to be noted.

First, workers’ compensation does not require proof of fault or negligence. As long as the injury sustained was work-related, the victim will be rewarded compensation. With personal injury, the claimant must prove that the defendant was responsible in some way for their injury.

Second, workers’ compensation provides limited benefits. Workers’ comp benefits include medical expense coverage and, in Indiana, 66.66% of weekly lost wages. Personal injury lawsuits can provide medical expense coverage, full lost wages, and additional non-economic damages which cover those expenses which cannot be quantified, such as the pain and suffering an individual endures.

Lastly, first responders in Indiana are not eligible for personal injury compensation from a negligent party if they are responding to that party’s emergency. Workers’ compensation can be awarded after an accident, but personal injury claims can only be made if the responder is injured by a negligent party while on an unrelated task. For example, police injury on duty compensation will not be paid from a criminal who assaulted the officer. However, if the officer gets into an accident on the way to the scene, they can file a personal injury claim against the other driver.

Compensation Available for First Responder Personal Injuries

If the first responder is injured by another party to whom/which they are not actively responding, they may recover significant damages from a personal injury claim. Personal injury compensation covers a variety of costs associated with an injury. This can include medical expenses, transportation costs, 100% of lost wages, pain and suffering compensation, and much more.

If you are a first responder and sustained a work injury at the fault of a third party not involved in your emergency response, contact Tuley Law Office to see if you have a case for personal injury compensation.

How Tuley Law Office Can Help First Responders

Something you may have noticed throughout this article is that the different types of first responders tend to be at risk for similar injuries.

Each type of responder is typically at risk for a specific of injury:

  • Police officer injured on duty claims are more likely to be a result of physical assault
  • Firefighter injured on duty claims are more likely to be a result of burns or smoke inhalation
  • EMS personnel injured on duty claims are more likely to be illness-related

However, all of these responders can end up in any situation. A firefighter may need to restrain a violent individual, a police officer may need to help a sick and dying patient, and an EMT might need to pull someone from a burning wreck. There is no set formula, but there is a common remedy.

Tuley Law Office is an Indiana law firm serving those who suffer from an injury at the fault of someone else. If you are a first responder—whether you are hurt as a part of your response efforts or separately by a third party—you may be liable for compensation.

Our Evansville personal injury lawyers can help you file a claim against a third party, and our Evansville work injury lawyers can help you get the money you deserve from an employer who tries to withhold benefits.

Fill out the contact form on our website today to get started on your claim as soon as possible.

Have questions about your case?

Contact us