A number of medical studies suggest that Firefighters have a high rate of death from cardiovascular causes and that the most frequent cause of death among firefighters is heart disease rather than burns or smoke inhalation. A particular section, Section 6(f) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, expands coverage for Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics with heart or respiratory disease or conditions. Section 6(f) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides:
“Any condition or impairment of health of an employee employed as a Firefighter, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Paramedic which results directly or indirectly from any bloodborne pathogen, lung or respiratory disease or condition, heart or vascular disease or condition, hypertension, tuberculosis, or cancer resulting in any disability (temporary, permanent, total or partial) to the employee shall be rebuttally presumed to arise out of and in the course of employees fire fighting, EMT or paramedic employment and further shall be rebutally presumed to be causally connected to the hazards or exposures of the employment. This presumption shall also apply to any hernia or hearing loss suffered by an employee employed as a Firefighter, EMT, or Paramedic, however, this presumption shall not apply to any employee who has been employed as a Firefighter, EMT or Paramedic for less than five years at the time he or she files an Application for Adjustment of Claim concerning this condition or impairment with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The finding and decision of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission under only the rebuttal of presumption provision of the subsection shall not be admissible or be deemed Res judicata in any disability claim under the Illinois Pension Code arising out of the same medical condition; however, this sentence makes no change to the law within Krohe v. City of Bloomington, 204 Ill. 2d 392.”
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has interpreted Section 6(f) as requiring the Petitioner to establish that the condition resulted directly or indirectly from the employment. In the case of Schaefer v. Village of Gurnee, 08 WC 8950, 11 I.W.C.C. 497, the Petitioner’s coronary artery disease was discovered following a regular department physical which subsequently disabled him from his duties as a Firefighter. Clearly, when a condition or disease is discovered following a routine physical examination, few would consider that workers’ compensation may apply. Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics diagnosed with a condition or disease should not rely upon their own or any other non-lawyer’s interpretation of this law. They should get help from an experienced lawyer. If you have any questions about this issue, or any issue regarding workers’ compensation, feel free to speak to us by using our no charge initial consultation offer. You can contact us at 312-263-6330 or through the toll-free State of Illinois injury hotline at 1-800-444-1525. You can also visit us on the web at www.kfeej.com.
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Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca
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