Firefighter Cancer Workers’ Compensation Claims
Attorneys who proudly stand up for first responders in New Jersey
Firefighters put their lives on the line to protect others, and when they’re hurt, they have recourse under the law. It’s not just the immediate perils of fire and unstable buildings, but also the long-term risks of exposure to dangerous substances that can wreak havoc on a firefighter’s life.
That’s why New Jersey law specifically protects firefighters who develop cancer: it’s an occupational hazard and ought to be treated as a work injury. However, getting the compensation you need for a cancer diagnosis can be difficult, even with those legal protections. That’s why you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to handle your claim.
Firefighters throughout New Jersey can count on Shebell & Shebell, LLC, because we have firsthand knowledge of the stresses firefighters endure. Both Raymond Shebell and Thomas Shebell have been active members of volunteer fire departments in our town, and Raymond still holds various positions including Captain of Colts Neck Fire Police, Captain of County of Monmouth Fire Police LLC, President of Colts Neck Fire Company #2, and VP of Mid-Monmouth Fire Police. These cases are personal to us, and you can rest assured that we will fight hard to pursue the compensation you need and deserve.
Understanding New Jersey’s laws for firefighters with cancer
In most workers’ compensation claims, the burden of proof is on the injured worker to show that their injury was work-related. However, the law establishes exceptions for certain injuries in certain professions, and in New Jersey, one of those exceptions is for firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer.
S716, which was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy on July 8, 2019, creates a presumption that cancer diagnosed in firefighters under the age of 76 with more than seven years of active service is an occupational disease. The law applies to any cancer that is known to be caused by exposure to heat, radiation, or a known or suspected carcinogen.
The only cancer that is explicitly mentioned in the New Jersey law is leukemia, but again, the law can be applied to many different cancers, including:
- Melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers
- Cancers of the esophagus and intestine
- Lung cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Brain cancer
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma
As such, New Jersey firefighters (paid or volunteer, active or retired) who fit the above criteria do not need to prove specific exposures or fires that they fought to get workers’ compensation for their cancer. You only need to show that you were an active firefighter for at least seven years and developed a cancer known to be caused by heat, radiation, or a carcinogen. The burden of proof is on the employer (and the workers’ comp insurance company) to show that there is a greater than 50% chance that the cancer is not due to work exposure if they want to deny a claim on that basis.
An experienced attorney can help you recover full compensation
New Jersey has a very worker-friendly law for firefighter cancer claims, but that doesn’t mean getting workers’ comp is straightforward. The stakes are high in a cancer case: workers’ compensation pays for the full cost of all reasonable and necessary medical treatment, which may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, hospitalization, and prescription drugs that can cost tens of thousands of dollars per month. As such, the workers’ comp insurance company has a massive financial incentive to dispute and deny claims. Because the research on cancer is constantly evolving and sometimes contradictory, there is plenty of room for them to try to make the argument that your cancer was not related to your work as firefighter.
The way to level the playing field is to get an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side. Shebell & Shebell has been fighting for injured workers in New Jersey since 1927, and our attorneys have decades of experience handling complex workers’ comp cases. We can guide you through the process, counter the insurance company’s tactics, and fight for maximum compensation while you focus on your health.
You fought fire to protect the people of this state, and we would be honored to fight for you. Don’t go it alone after a work-related cancer diagnosis. Schedule your free consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney at Shebell & Shebell today. We have offices in Shrewsbury, Freehold, and Newark, and we represent injured workers throughout New Jersey.