Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), Paramedics, and other public safety employees are regularly injured on the job and require the assistance of a Workers Compensation Attorney
Common work injuries among EMT and Paramedics
Certain occupations require more physical activity than others which results in a higher rate of injury among those employed in such occupation. Employees of the public safety sector are regularly on the move responding to emergency calls in order to assist citizens involved in accidents. In 2015 there were 754 injuries sustained by Fireman Including Volunteer & Ambulance services resulting in a slight reduction from prior years. While there does not appear to be any subjective data collected on the severity of these particular injuries or how they occurred, there does seem to be common sources of work injuries for EMT and Paramedics.
EMT and Paramedics are occasionally injured while maneuvering patients onto or off of stretchers or gurneys. It is quite common for emergency personnel to suffer minor back and shoulder strains while attempting to move a patient. Particularly a patient that is motionless weight, or excessive weight. Unfortunately there are instances where the injuries are not just a minor strain or sprain but result in complete ligament tear, or herniated discs.
Paramedics and EMT are also susceptible to being injured at work while in transport to and from emergency calls. One of the more obvious modes of injury for all emergency personnel are auto accidents. The nature of the occupation requires a quick response time and sometimes auto accidents are unavoidable. Even the most cautious driver is still susceptible to accidents that are caused by other drivers but if you add in the faster speeds that paramedics and EMT’s must travel at then the chance of a non-at fault auto accident is increased. In addition to auto accidents there are other risks while in transport to and from calls.
Any occupation that requires regular and constant travel will include exposure to inherent dangers. It is not uncommon for EMT and Paramedics to be injured while walking to their unit or walking from their unit to the location of the emergency. Injuries from falls while descending and ascending steps, slips while maneuvering through the elements, especially in icy conditions, and injuries while moving through patients homes are common work injuries among EMT and Paramedics.
When transporting patients often times an EMT or Parmedic must be in the back of the unit administering medical treatment. Increased risk of injury occurs when the medical provider is not seat buckled but is moving freely throughout the cabin of the ambulance. The risk of fall is apparent, but also some risk of getting injured while working on the patient using medical equipment. Risks such as getting stuck with needles, being injured by aggressive patients, or being hit by equipment or supplies increases dramatically when the ambulance is in motion.
Workers Compensation Benefits for EMT and Paramedics
EMT and Paramedics are entitled to workers compensation benefits just as any other employee is entitled to workers compensation benefits. The benefits of which injured workers regularly receive under workers compensation include:
- Medical Treatment for EMT/Paramedics through workers compensation-
An injured worker is entitled to medical treatment to the injured body part for the remainder of their life according to Maryland workers comp law. The caveat to this rule, which is regularly misunderstood among injured workers, is that the nature and extent of the injury must justify lifetime medical treatment. If the injury is minor then the future medical treatment may be minor or non-existent for the injured EMT or Paramedic.
- Temporary Total Disability/Lost wage payments by workers comp-
As long as a physician is indicating that the injured EMT or Paramedic is unable to work in any capacity then temporary total disability/lost wages are due. Lost wages should be paid at 2/3 of the average weekly wage of the injured paramedic by the workers compensation insurer. In some when an EMT or paramedic is held out of work by their doctor they may receive full wages. See EMT and Paramedics benefits as public safety employees below.
- Temporary Partial Disability-
If working but not making the same wages that were being paid prior to the accident then temporary partial disability benefits should be paid by workers comp to the injured EMT or paramedic. These payments are calculated as 50% of the difference of the pre-injury and post injury wages. See more on lost wages.
- Permanent Partial Disability awards to EMT/Paramedics through workers compensation-
Once discharged from treatment the EMT or Paramedic injured at work qualifies for permanent partial disability. This will only apply in cases where there is some remaining physical problems, complaints, pain, or discomfort. Maryland workers comp Attorney will have an evaluation performed by a specialized orthopedic surgeon who will provide an impairment rating. The rating assists the EMT’s workers compensation attorney in determining a reasonable settlement amount or an expected permanency award. There are legal doctrines such as industrial loss, combined other cases, which are also considered when estimating settlement or permanency award the EMT should expect.
(see Permanency v. Settlement)
- Permanent Total Disability
In very rare circumstances a person is not able to return to work in any capacity because of the severity of their injury. If the paramedic has sustained such serious injuries from a work accident that they are not physically able to seek any gainful employment then a permanency finding of “permanent total” may be awarded by the commission. These findings are quite rare and most paramedics would not qualify for a permanent total award by the Workers Compensation Commission.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits available to EMT/Paramedics under workers comp-
If no longer able to perform the work duties and the employer does not have an accommodation available EMT and Paramedics who are getting workers comp may be candidates for Voc Rehab. A vocational counselor will be assigned to the case while the injured EMT and Paramedic search for employment. While the job search continues so will the workers compensation benefits.
- Reimbursement of Expenses
The injured EMT or Paramedic should not be required to make out of pocket payments for prescription medication, or be expected to pay parking when visiting their doctor. However, this does occur in many cases. These expenses are to be reimbursed to the injured.
Under Maryland workers compensation laws the injured employee is entitled to be reimbursed for mileage when traveling to and from a treating doctors.
In certain circumstances the injured employee is entitled to transportation to and from each scheduled doctors or therapy appointment. Your Maryland workers compensation attorney may be able to arrange your pick up and drop off free of cost to you.
- Additional Benefits
On occasion additional benefits can be obtained from the insurance company. Mr. Rodabaugh has represented clients and successfully obtained financial advancements on multiple occasions, payment for weight loss programs, changes to personal vehicles to suite disability, and access ramps to the injured workers home.
In addition to the above stated workers compensation benefits to which every injured Maryland worker is entitled, as public safety employees EMT’s and Paramedics are entitled to other benefits.
How are EMT’s and Paramedics’ workers compensation benefits affected as public safety employees?
Many EMT’s and Paramedics are employees of municipalities, ordinarily county governments. As governement employees they may receive a period of A-leave benefits. Accident leave can be paid in lieu of temporary total disability/lost wage payments. The benefit is that the EMT or Paramedic will get full wages for a period of time rather than 2/3 of their average weekly wage. The down side is that Accident leave does not toll the statute of limitations for any given case. For further explanation contact Maryland workers compensation attorney Andrew M. Rodaugh.
As public safety employees EMT’s and Paramedics receive the second tier rate of payment on permanency awards that would otherwise be paid at the first tier rate. This means that EMT and Paramedics who have sustained the exact same injury as a non-public safety employee will receive almost twice as much compensation. For more on public safety rates go here.
EMT and Paramedics are entitled to a number of legal presumptions. A legal presumption places less of an evidentiary burden on the EMT and Paramedic and gives them a slight advantage. Under Maryland workers compensation law EMT/Paramedics enjoy a presumption of compensability for occupational diseases including hypertension, heart disease, lung disease. Further presumptions of compensability are provided for those EMT and Paramedics who have worked at the department for 10 years, are not able to perform duties because of the occupational disease, and passed a physical prior to employment. If these terms are met then the employee will enjoy the legal presumption of compensability for leukemia, prostate, rectal, throat, brain, testicular, lymphoma or breast cancer.
Volunteer EMT and Paramedic workers compensation benefits
Volunteer EMT and Paramedics will enjoy most of the benefits that the paid EMT or Paramedic receives under Maryland workers compensation laws. One key distinction is how the volunteer EMT or Paramedic would be pad if they are not able to work. As a volunteer they do not receive wages so determining the amount of lost wages would be impossible, however Maryland law provides the average weekly wage from any full time employment the volunteer has would be used in determining the lost wage payment amount. For more on volunteer employees go here.
Sample Paramedic and EMT workers compensation cases Mr. Rodabaugh has handled:
- EMT was working for a private ambulance company when he injured his right shoulder. He was rushing to his unit to respond to a call and slipped on some melted snow. Injury sustained was a rupture of the supraspinatus tendon. Mr. Rodabaugh helped secure the injured EMT lost wages and a settlement over the amount of $50,000.
- EMT was traveling in the rear of a response unit when the unit was involved in a collision. The EMT sustained neck and head injuries after being thrown about the back of the ambulance. Mr. Rodabaugh was able to have the claim deemed compensable and recovered lost wages.
- Paramedic was attempting to raise a gurney when she felt a pop in her wrist and pain in her arm. The weight of the patient and the amount of strength needed to raise the gurney resulted in bilateral extremity damage. The Paramedic received extensive therapy and Mr. Rodabaugh assisted her in obtaining a permanency award before the workers compensation commission.
For a no cost consultation with Maryland Injury Attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh call +1 (410) 937-1659 , Email , or fill out the form below:
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