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Northwest OH Legal Blog

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New Law to Benefit Firefighters with Cancer Takes Effect

Legislation signed by Governor John Kasich to benefit firefighters who contracted cancer because of their service took effect on April 6, 2017. Although, firefighters could previously file a Workers’ Compensation claim for such an injury, they would often face difficulty getting their claims allowed because it was difficult to prove their service caused this injury. The new law creates a rebuttable presumption that the cancer was caused by his or her work as a firefighter. In other words, the BWC will have to prove that another factor caused the firefighter to contract cancer. The BWC issued a notice regarding this new law prior to taking effect:

Firefighters will still have to prove their employment caused cancer under two circumstances. First, if the firefighter died of cancer prior to April 6, 2017, they will not be eligible under the new law. Second, if the firefighter was diagnosed, received treatment, and quit working due to the cancer prior to April 6, 2017, they will not be eligible. The law would still apply to a firefighter who has been diagnosed but is still working.

If neither situation applies, then it will be presumed that a firefighter is eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits if the injured worker worked as a firefighter for at least six years, with some of that experience being in the last twenty years. It also must be shown that the injured worker was exposed to a Group 1 or Group 2A carcinogen while working as a firefighter. He or she must have a doctor provide a cancer diagnosis. The injured worker must also be younger than seventy years old.

The BWC requires the injured worker to fill out a form which includes employment history, and requires the injured worker to identify the carcinogens to which he or she was exposed. The injured worker’s doctor will have to submit a narrative medical diagnosis to the BWC along with the application.

Although this new law will be very helpful to firefighters, the application process is more extensive than a typical claim. Failure to meet the bureaucratic requirements could cause the claim to be rejected by the BWC. Getting help from an attorney with experience navigating Ohio’s Workers’ Compensation system will help ensure that the injured worker receives the benefits he or she deserves.


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