Workers' Compensation Representation FromA Former Workers' Compensation Defense Attorney

Workplace injuries: Each firefighter death is one too many

There is a significant drop in the number of firefighters who died work-related deaths in California and across the country in 2019. Compared to the average number of fatal workplace injuries among firefighters in recent years, the number of deaths dropped from 65 to 48. Compared to the 1970s, when firefighter deaths averaged over 80 per year, the latest statistics may be encouraging. However, each firefighter’s death is one too many.

According to the report, career fighters, volunteer firefighters, land management employees and civilian employees of the military made up the 48 deaths in 2019. The circumstances that led to the 2019 deaths included explosions, wildland fires and structure fires. These death were all related to specific events but do not include former firefighters who died from work-related illnesses during that time frame.

The nature of their jobs exposes firefighters to contaminants, carcinogens, severe emotional and physical strain, and stress. In many cases, the health damage is progressive, and deaths can occur years later. Therefore, such deaths will likely not be included in the statistics mentioned here.

Firefighters in California might find comfort in knowing that the state-regulated workers’ compensation system automatically covers specific work-related injuries and illnesses in this industry. The program also pays death benefits to the surviving family members of firefighters who died after suffering fatal workplace injuries. However, those who lose loved ones long after they stopped working as firefighters might have problems proving the death was caused by exposure to carcinogens or other contaminants. This is where the skills of an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney can be crucial. With the support and guidance of legal counsel, grieving family members may receive maximum applicable benefits.