Workplace accidents that result in scarring or disfigurement are devastating, painful and emotionally difficult. Firefighters are particularly at risk of scarring and disfigurement on the job. As a firefighter, you may experience a permanent change in your appearance as a result of a fire. Firefighters in the City of Chicago are usually not covered for work-related injuries because the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act doesn’t cover firefighters who work in cities with populations of 500,000 or more. However, there is an exception for Chicago firefighters who suffer serious and permanent disfigurement due to burns. Evaluation of benefits for scarring and disfigurement requires assessing the extent of the disfigurement and whether a bodily function was impaired. If you are concerned about scarring for firefighters, you should discuss your claim with our experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers.
Scarring for Firefighters
Firefighting is a dangerous job. Scarring or disfigurement may be the result of:
• Loss of an appendage
• Nerve damage to your face
• Nerve damage that restricts use of your limbs
• Loss of limbs
• Loss of eyes or ears
• Damage to your cornea or retina or eye socket.
Under section 8(c) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, workers who sustain serious and permanent disfigurement on various specific parts of the body can obtain reasonable and necessary medical care, among other benefits, including disfigurement benefits. The parts of the body for which disfigurement benefits may be recovered include the head, hands, neck, face, chest above the axillary line, and the legs below the knee. For example, if you suffered fourth degree burns on your lower legs while fighting a fire in the suburbs and were disfigured for life, you could obtain permanent disfigurement benefits. If we represent you, our lawyers and your employer or its insurer would come up with a number of weeks for which your disfigurement is valued up to 162 weeks. In most cases, facial scars due to burns are given the greatest number of weeks. The number of weeks we come up with would be multiplied by 60% of an average weekly wage to determine a disfigurement award.
If you sustain scarring or disfigurement as a result of job-related injuries, you may be able to obtain benefits for other related benefits as well. In some cases, permanent disfigurement results in loss of use. You can’t obtain disability pay for loss of use and also obtain disfigurement benefits to the same part of the body. For example, if you are burned while working to put out a house fire and your forearm and hand are scarred and disfigured due to severe burns that result in loss of use, you won’t be able to obtain both permanent partial disability benefits and disfigurement benefits for what has happened to your arm and hand.
Another potentially relevant benefit is the wage differential benefit. If you had to leave firefighting because the scarring caused physical impairments and your new job pays less than firefighting, you can obtain a wage differential or 2/3 of the difference between the amount you earn in a new vocation and what you earned as a firefighter. However, you won’t be able to obtain both this wage differential benefit and a permanent disability award.
Lump Sum Payments
You may be offered a lump sum payment if you sustain disfigurement or scarring due to disfigurement. A city employer may offer a lump sum settlement soon after you are burned in a work-related fire. However, it is wise to retain an attorney who understands that the long-term consequences of your scarring may not be fully apparent right away. We may not start negotiations for a lump sum settlement related to scarring for firefighters until after 6 months to a year have passed since you were injured on the job.
In some cases, medical treatment is appropriate. It can reduce the harm inflicted by work-related injuries. For instance, it may be possible to undergo revision surgery in order to address scarring or disfigurement. In other cases, the scar needs to be permanent. Deciding how much a permanent disability award should be demands our lawyers analyze a range of factors including where the scar or disfigurement is located on your body, how severe it is, and whether it impacts your ability to perform daily activities.
Hire a Chicago Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Firefighters
Scarring for firefighters can range from minor and cosmetic to devastating and permanently disabling. Our attorneys represent scarred firefighters in Champaign, Rockford, Quincy, and Aurora, as well as Sangamon, Winnebago, Kane, Cook, and Adams Counties. Call us at 800-444-1525 or 312-263-6330 or complete our online form .