Firefighters play an essential role in the safety of our communities. Unfortunately, protecting us often comes at a cost. In 2015, firefighters suffered more than 68,000 injuries—more than one every eight minutes. According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), fewer than half of these injuries occur in the process of fighting fires. The remainder occur:
While some injuries were relatively minor, more than 11,000 resulted in lost work time, and some were quite serious. During the same period, 90 firefighters died on duty.
Although fire is the most obvious danger associated with the profession, most firefighter injuries and deaths stem from the physical nature of the work and the stress associated with the job rather than burn injuries. Heart attacks, over-exertion and stress were the leading causes of firefighter fatalities on the job, with 54 firefighters dying of heart attacks suffered on duty in 2015. The same causes accounted for more than ¼ of on-the-job injuries, and another 27% were attributable to slips, falls, and jumps.
Firefighters also suffer injuries in emergency vehicle collisions, from chemical exposure and other hazardous conditions, and from exposure to infectious diseases. In short, those dedicated to protecting the public from the risk of fire and related hazards are themselves at risk every day.
In NYC, firefighters are not eligible for workers compensation. Although this eliminates one avenue to recovering for injuries suffered on the job, it also opens up another: New York firefighters may sue their employer for negligence.
Of course, that is just one route to recovering damages for an injured firefighter. Depending on the circumstances, the injured firefighter may have a cause of action against one or more parties, including:
A firefighter who has been injured in the line of duty may be eligible for a variety of damages, depending on the specifics of the injury and the long-term prognosis. Some common types of damages include:
Compensation for lost income is often a key element in a damage award for a firefighter, as physical limitations created by an injury may prevent the firefighter from returning to his chosen profession. Establishing the value of this type of claim is often complicated, and requires analysis by and testimony from experts. Expert witnesses will help to establish anticipated future medical costs, the extent of ongoing limitations on the ability to earn a living, and the projected amount of lost income.
If you are a firefighter who was injured on the job, or your loved one was killed in the line of duty, it is to your advantage to speak with an experienced FDNY accident attorney as soon as possible. Special requirements may apply when suing a governmental entity, including a very tight deadline for filing a notice of claim.
Take the first step right now. Just fill out the contact form on this page, or call 212-732-2929, to schedule a free consultation.