First responders are an often-forgotten group that is also impacted by hurricanes as they fight to rescue others. These brave men and women often put their health and lives at risk to help or rescue others. Then when the first responders are injured, perhaps unable to return to work and make a living for themselves and their families, they may need to file a workers compensation claim. First responder injuries are not only physical; they can be mental as well.
Because first responders in Louisiana often work as rescuers following a hurricane or severe flooding, mental trauma is frequent. Louisiana has taken steps to ensure first responders who have suffered mental trauma will also be able to obtain workers compensation for their mental issues. As of August 2019, current and past first responders can use a medically documented post-traumatic stress disorder to apply for workers compensation. Many first responders have “bottled up” traumatic events for years, leading to PTSD. While there is no cure for PTSD, there are treatments that can significantly help.
If you are a first responder having difficulty obtaining Louisiana workers compensation following a physical or mental illness, injury, or disease, you need an advocate in your corner. New Orleans Legal, LLC, will work hard on your behalf to ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to. We will fight for you when you may not be able to fight for yourself. We understand the job you do is difficult and risky and believe you deserve someone that genuinely cares about your future.
First Responders Workers Compensation
Of course, safety is a key issue for first responders and others that deal with natural disasters such as hurricanes and the aftermath of the storm. Many people fail to recognize the many hazards that exist for first responders during a hurricane. These first responders helping rescue others from harm’s way can end up injured or even dead when responding to a hurricane or other natural disaster.
Just a few of the hazards encountered by first responders during a hurricane include flash flooding, storm surges, heat stress, electrical hazards, carbon monoxide poisoning, exposure to hazardous chemicals and other materials, burns, floodwaters, and injuries due to a fall or confined space.
During a hurricane, first responders can experience tough challenges, intense stress, and disturbing sights resulting in mental issues and PTSD. In the aftermath of a hurricane and floodwaters, first responders are involved in many different response and recovery operations. Floodwaters can contain infectious organisms such as:
- Hepatitis A Virus
- Other intestinal bacteria
Another serious risk to first responders is when floodwaters hide debris and downed electrical lines. First responders should be protected from all these hazards, but this is not always the case. When injured on the job, first responders are entitled to file for workers compensation benefits that will pay for their medical expenses related to the injuries and partial salary while they are off work.
Filing for Workers Compensation as a First Responder
First responder injuries are more common than you might think. There is a significant risk of injury for those who work in and around catastrophic events. First responders work long hours under significant stress, with little rest. First responders are exposed to bacteria, microbes, smoke, gases, chemicals, and toxins—things most people will never encounter in their daily routine. Working such long hours can also lead to risk-taking and subsequent first responder injuries. First responders take risks daily to handle Louisiana disasters; therefore, insurers need to ensure these brave first responders receive the support they need and deserve.
First Responder Injury Statistics
Emergency responders frequently incur injuries as they provide medical, fire, and law enforcement services to the public. While injury and fatality rates are significantly elevated for all categories of emergency responders, the types and causes of injury and death are different. For example, firefighters tend to be injured or killed from being lost, trapped, or involved in a vehicle accident. Police deaths are more likely to be caused by assaults and vehicle accidents. EMS line-of-duty deaths usually involve rescue helicopters or vehicle accidents.
According to Rand Science and Technology, the most common types of injuries to first responders include sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations, bruises, lacerations, punctures, abrasions, burns, anoxia, and poisoning. Sprains and strains are routine among EMS, police, and firefighters. Police officers and career firefighters have the highest injury rates. In short, the physical and emotional demands for first responders can cause injury and mental trauma.
Common Injuries to Hurricane First Responders
Hurricanes are extremely dangerous to all those in the path. Storm winds must exceed 74 mph to be classified as a hurricane, and hurricanes are rated from 1-5 based on sustained wind speeds. The storms with higher numbers are more dangerous, therefore, more likely to result in loss of life, property damage, and injury. Because everyone is rushing to get away from at-risk hurricane areas, car accidents are common.
When first responders are on the way to those accidents, they risk being involved in an auto accident. Water-borne infections are common when floodwaters are contaminated with sewage and toxic chemicals. The floodwaters can also conceal sharp objects, rusty metal, broken glass, etc. When a cut occurs in these waters, there is a greater likelihood of serious infections. Those using generators for power can be poisoned by excess carbon monoxide. When first responders attempt to rescue those with carbon monoxide poisoning, they can also suffer.
How New Orleans Legal, LLC Can Help New Orleans First Responders Obtain Workers Compensation Benefits
First responder injuries can be severe. If you are a first responder that has suffered a physical injury or illness, or an emotional trauma, New Orleans Legal can help you obtain workers compensation benefits. It can be challenging for those that typically rescue others to admit they need assistance. You are entitled to workers compensation in the same way any worker in the state is. Do not wait—Contact New Orleans Legal, LLC today.