Recently, a bill was introduced by Representative Kam Buckner which could provide a tremendous impact for firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics who have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Keep reading to learn more from top workers’ compensation attorney in Illinois, Brent Eames, about the proposed legislation, and how it may impact firefighters and paramedics across the state.
Generally, injured workers in Illinois are required to prove based upon the greater weight of the evidence that their injuries arose out of and occurred in the course of their employment in order to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, an injured worker is required to prove based upon the greater weight of the evidence that their injuries were caused by the aforementioned work activities. This is generally referred to as the causation standard. However, given the inherent risks associated with serving as a firefighter and paramedic, Section 6(f) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides special protections and benefits for eligible freighters and paramedics by lowering these standards for certain types of injuries.
Section 6(f) of the Illinois Work Comp Act addresses occupational diseases compensable under the Act. In particular, under Section 6(f), if a firefighter, emergency medical technician (EMT), emergency medical technician-intermediate (EMT-I), advanced emergency medical technician (A-EMT), or paramedic, develops any condition or impairment as a direct or indirect result of any bloodborne pathogen, lung respiratory disease or condition, heart or vascular disease or condition, hypertension, tuberculosis, cancer, MRSA, or staph causing any disability, then, there is a rebuttable presumption that the disability arose out of and in the course of such person’s employment and is compensable under the Act. A causal connection is also presumed between the disability and the claimant’s employment.
HB3529 which has been filed in the 103rd General Assembly seeks to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions which are rebuttably presumed to be compensable under the Act. This means that if a firefighter, paramedic, or EMT suffers from PTSD, then he or she would have a head start on receiving workers’ compensation benefits in that he or she would not have the initial burden of proving based upon the greater weight of the evidence that their injuries arose out of and occurred in the course of their employment, or that the diagnosis of PTSD was caused by the employment. This bill was referred to the Rules Committee on February 17, 2023, and it is not yet the law of the land. Nevertheless, this is a very important bill which first responders should follow closely as it makes its way through the legislative process.
If you were injured on duty and are wondering what steps to take, our best workers’ compensation attorneys in Chicago at Eames Law Group can help. Attorney Brent Eames has represented numerous first responders in claims for PTSD before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, as well as pension boards across Illinois.
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The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only and does constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship, nor constitute legal advice. If you wish to discuss any further aspect of the material contained herein, please contact attorney for first responders, Brent Eames, at Eames Law Group, Ltd.