Cramer and Martinez

Free Consultation408-848-1113

7459 Monterey St., Suite A, Gilroy, CA 95020

Gilroy, CA Police Officer and Firefighter Injury Lawyer

Morgan Hill police firefighter injury attorney

Workers' Compensation Attorneys for First Responders in Santa Clara County and San Benito County

The work of police officers, firefighters, and other first responders is often inherently dangerous, and employees in these occupations may willingly risk their own health, safety, and very lives in service to their communities. Part of the reason they are able to do so is that they know that workers' compensation will help to cover their losses if they are injured in the line of duty. That said, the process of obtaining benefits is still often complicated, and many injured first responders can benefit from the services of an experienced attorney.

At Cramer & Martinez, LLP, we have represented injured first responders and other workers in Santa Clara County and the surrounding areas for more than 20 years. We have a thorough understanding of the process of filing a claim, determining benefits eligibility, and resolving denials and disputes, and we will work to ensure that you are treated fairly by your employer and their claims administrator.

Common Injuries Among First Responders

The occupational hazards of policing and firefighting lead to many different kinds of serious injuries. Some common occurrences include:

  • Injuries due to physical exertion: Running, lifting, climbing, and other physical tasks are frequently part of the job responsibilities for first responders, and wearing gun belts and other heavy gear can further contribute to the physical strain. Injuries to neck and back muscles, as well as to the knees, shoulders, and other joints, are common as a result.
  • Fall injuries: Police officers and firefighters often find themselves in dangerous environments, with hazards that can lead to both slip and fall injuries at ground level, and injuries due to a fall from a ladder or multi-story building.
  • Burn injuries and smoke inhalation: Firefighters especially are at risk of suffering severe burns that may result in permanent disfigurement, and respiratory conditions and other diseases due to toxic smoke inhalation. Relatedly, they may suffer severe injuries when caught in a structure that is collapsing due to fire damage.
  • Injuries due to violence: In the process of pursuing and apprehending suspects, police officers often suffer gunshot wounds, stab wounds, and injuries due to physical assault.
  • Vehicle accident injuries: Police officers patrolling in their vehicles and first responders traveling to the location of a fire or other incident may be involved in vehicle crashes that result in severe injuries.
  • Psychiatric conditions: Posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and other diagnosable psychiatric conditions are especially common among first responders due to the traumatic experiences they often undergo at work.

Special Workers' Comp Provisions for First Responders

First responders who are injured on the job are entitled to the same types of workers' compensation benefits as employees in other occupations. For example, employers should cover the costs of all reasonable medical care to treat the injuries and aid in the employee's recovery. Benefits are also available to make up for an employee's lost wages, including temporary disability benefits for missed work during the recovery process, and permanent disability benefits for employees whose injuries limit their ability to return to work in the long-term.

However, there are a few ways in which first responders are treated differently from other kinds of employees under California workers' compensation law. For example:

  • Volunteer firefighters are treated as regular employees for the purposes of workers' compensation, and they can even receive disability benefits for lost wages due to missed time at their paying job.
  • Many law enforcement officers and firefighters who are temporarily or permanently disabled due to their work are eligible for up to one year of benefits at their full salary, in place of the regular temporary or permanent benefits available under workers' compensation, which usually cover only two-thirds of the employee's lost wages.
  • In addition to the regular death benefits available to the dependents of an employee who dies due to a work-related injury, a college or university scholarship is available to the dependent of a police officer or firefighter who dies or is determined to have a permanent total disability.
  • For police officers and firefighters, some diseases and conditions like cancer and heart trouble are presumed to be work-related under certain circumstances. A California Senate bill passed in September 2020 also includes a provision establishing the circumstances under which COVID-19 is considered a work-related illness for first responders.

Contact a Santa Clara County First Responder Injury Attorney

If you need assistance with understanding all of the different benefits for which you may be entitled, or with filing your claim or appealing a denial, contact us today at 408-848-1113 for a free consultation. We represent injured first responders in Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, San Benito County, Monterey County, Gilroy, Morgan Hill, San Jose, Watsonville, Hollister, Salinas, and the surrounding areas.

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