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Volunteer firefighters can get workers' compensation benefits

In New York, especially in the upstate regions, cities and towns rely on volunteer firefighters to a significant degree. As with any task that firefighters take part in, there are fundamental dangers and they can be injured and killed during the course of their work. A question that is often asked is whether a volunteer can be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. In the case of volunteer firefighters, they are. It is important to understand what benefits are available and when.

When a volunteer company responds to a situation as a unit, the volunteers are eligible to receive benefits regardless of whether the injury came about serving the home or aiding in another location. With cash benefits, the following will be fixed: total disability, schedule loss of use, and death benefits. Depending on the injury, weekly benefits will hinge on earning capacity. The benefits will be paid from the first day in which the person is disabled and there will not be a waiting period. There will be medical care provided as necessary and there will be no consideration as to the length of the disability.

The disability classifications for a volunteer firefighter are the following: Permanent Total Disability; Temporary Total Disability; Temporary Partial Disability; Permanent Partial Disability; Schedule Loss; and Disfigurement. Permanent Total Disability means their earning capacity is completely lost. They will get $600 per week under these circumstances. With Temporary Total Disability, the earning capacity is lost on a temporary basis. In these situations, they will receive $400 per week.

For Temporary Partial Disability and Permanent Partial Disability, an injured individual will receive certain amounts based on a percentage of what was lost. If it is 75 percent or more loss, then they will get $400 per week; 50 to 75 percent will garner $268 per week; 25 to 50 percent will get $30 per week; less than 25 percent will get nothing. Schedule Loss means they have lost eyesight, hearing, or a body part is no longer usable. There will be a certain number of weeks for which the benefits will be provided. If there is disfigurement to the face, head, or neck, then the volunteer can get up to $20,000.

Volunteering as a firefighter is a noble act. However, there are inherent dangers these volunteers face just as there are dangers for those who are employed as firefighters. Fortunately, these individuals are protected by workers' compensation laws and can get workers' compensation benefits. A law firm that helps people with their workers' compensation claims should be called when a volunteer firefighter is injured and they believe the injuries are severe enough to qualify for benefits.

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