When firefighters and police officers develop heart or lung diseases (or certain other specifically statutorily named medical conditions) after completing at least two years of service, the illnesses are conclusively presumed to have arisen out of and in the scope of employment and damages are therefore compensable under Nevada workers’ compensation laws.
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Special Workers’ Compensation Laws for Firefighters and Police
In Nevada, firefighters and police officers and arson investigators are subject to special workers’ compensation laws that make it easier to obtain benefits for heart or lung disease or some other occupational illnesses when certain circumstances exist.
Heart and Lung Diseases
When firefighters, police officers and arson investigators develop diseases of the heart or lung diseases and are full-time, salaried, uninterrupted employment by the state for two years or more, conclusive presumption of compensability is allowed under workers compensation. Even if the disease is a result of a genetic defect, it’s still considered job-related. The heart or lung disease must be diagnosed as the cause of disablement, and it must result in temporary or permanent disability or death.
Even exposures not related to work, similar to the heart disease rules, such resulting diseases are covered. As long as a disabling condition results in temporary or permanent disability or death, conclusive presumption of compensability is allowed under workers compensation.
All firefighters, police officers and arson investigators regardless of developing heart and lung diseases must submit to an annual physical examination. Examinations are required upon employment, upon commencement of benefits, and thereafter on an annual basis during the employee’s employment. Employees diagnosed with lung diseases must submit to a physical examination, including X-rays and testing of lung functioning upon employment, upon commencement of coverage, once every 2 years until the employee is 40 years of age or older, and thereafter on an annual basis during his/her employment.
Claims filed under heart and lung occupational diseases for firefighters, police officers and arson investigators may be reopened at any time during the life of the claimant if certification by a licensed physician shows a change in the employee’s health related to the occupational disease that warrants a rearrangement or increase in workers compensation benefits.
Typically the primary defenses levied by the employers is 1) the firefighter or police officer failed to correct a predisposing condition from their annual physical and 2) the resulting condition isn’t a “disease of the heart” or “disease of the lungs” or 3) the condition didn’t result in any “disablement”. These defenses while may seem trivial at first blush, are no laughing matter. The employer engages highly skilled lawyers that will attempt to use all of their ability to find a way to exercise one of these primary defenses. Having a skilled workers’ compensation attorney, that regularly practices Heart & Lung claims for firefighters and police officers is extremely important. An average work comp lawyer simply does not confront these issues as they are typically not important in other workers’ compensation claims, but are extremely important in Firefighter and Police Officer Heart & Lung claims.