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Injured Firefighters and Police: Was Your Average Monthly Wage Miscalculated? [infographic]

Since an injured firefighter or police officer’s average monthly wage (AMW) is used to determine workers’ compensation payments as well as compensation for permanent injuries, it is important that this amount is calculated correctly. The average monthly wage calculation in Nevada has been raised for fiscal year 2020. Firefighters and police officers who have suffered work-related injuries should refer to the latest tables when determining the benefits they are eligible to receive. Hiring a firefighter injury lawyer in Nevada can help ensure that injured law enforcement officers and firemen don’t leave money on the table.  

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Maximum Compensation for Fiscal Year 2020

The average weekly wage used to calculate the maximum disability benefits compensation for Fiscal Year 2020 will be $938.66 per week. Further, the maximum average monthly wage will be set at $6,096 which is 150% of the state weekly wage multiplied by 4.33 per Nevada Revised Statutes.

Firefighters and police officers in Nevada are eligible to receive a maximum benefit of 66 2/3%  of the average monthly wage. For instance, if they earn $6,096 or more per month, they are eligible to receive $4,064 per month in compensation. However, if they earn less, then their maximum compensation is calculated based on their actual earned wages. Finally, the maximum daily rate for FY 2020 will be set at $133.52.

Compensation Is Based on Date of Injury

Many work-related injuries take years to manifest themselves. For instance, asbestos exposure, chemical exposure, etc. can take many years to cause noticeable symptoms. When workers file claims for these types of injuries, the compensation rate is calculated based on the individual’s income at the time of the injury, not at their present income level. This is crucial to remember as many injured firefighters and police officers current income is significantly higher than what they earned earlier in their career.  

Common Firefighter Injuries

In 2016, 62,085 firefighter injuries were reported by firefighters in the United States. This was a decrease of 8.8% from the number reported in 2015. Nationwide, it’s estimated that one firefighter is injured every 8 minutes. Of these, 39% occur during fires, 21% occur during non-fire emergencies, and 18% occur while performing other on-activity responsibilities. 

52.6% of injuries involve strains, sprains, and other muscle injuries. Puncture wounds, cuts, and bruises account for 15.2% of injuries, and overexertion injuries account for 27.1% of injuries. 

Additionally, there were 36,475 exposures to hazardous substances. These included asbestos, chemicals, and other toxic materials that can cause long-term disabilities. Similarly, there were an estimated 15,425 motor vehicle accidents which was the seventh-highest number of reported accidents recorded since 1990.

Common Police Injuries

It is estimated that approximately 100,000 police officers are injured or experience work-related illnesses each year. Common injuries suffered by police officers include broken bones, overexertion injuries, spinal cord injuries, stabs, puncture wounds, gunshot injuries, and traumatic brain injuries.

Nationwide, law enforcement officers are three times more likely to experience a non-fatal injury while performing their duties than all other professions in the United States. From 2003-2014, a total of 669,1000 law enforcement officers received treatment in hospital emergency rooms from work-related injuries. Of these, 36% were the result of violent acts, 15% were caused by physical overexertion, 11% were because of falls, and 14% were because of motor vehicle accidents.

The Burden of Proof for Firefighters and Police Officers

Firefighters and police officers have a lower burden of proof than many other professions when it comes to filing for compensation. There is usually a presumption that certain injuries are work-related. These include contagious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, and tuberculosis.

It also includes lung disease and cancer. This is because firefighters are regularly exposed to diesel exhaust, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and formaldehyde which are known carcinogens. Similarly, liver and kidney cancer are also considered work-related injuries for firefighters because chloroform, soot, and vinyl chloride are known to cause these cancers. 

Firefighters and police officers with these injuries can file for temporary or permanent disability benefits. They may also file for vocational rehabilitation and mileage reimbursement.

Pursuing Compensation

A firefighter injury lawyer can help ensure that the appropriate rate calculation is used when calculating the appropriate compensation level. As with all workers’ compensation claims, it is vital to adhere to all reporting deadlines and documentation requirements. In some instances, firefighters and police officers may be able to pursue preventative benefits as a precautionary step based on exposures to carcinogens or contagious diseases.  

Firefighters and police officers in Nevada must adhere to filing requirements. This includes filing within the specified time frames and maintenance of records of doctor’s appointments, surgical procedures, radiological treatments, prescription medications, etc. While state statutes do have a lower burden of proof for claims filed by firefighters and police officers, failure to adhere to these requirements can result in the rejection of the claim.      

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