As the basic insurance that provides employees protection and financial support if they ever become ill or injured from a job-related task, workers’ compensation is a valuable lifeline and vital component of the insurance and legal systems. However, the benefits afforded to so many types of employees seem to be out of reach for firefighters in Missouri, Kansas, and other states. This upside down logic has many in the firefighting community petitioning their local governments to enforce much needed change.
The Missing Link For Cancer
When most people think about the biggest risk firefighters face on a daily basis, the obvious answer is the open flames of fire. However, research shows that cancer is becoming an even bigger danger to firefighters than the fires themselves. This is largely because homes are now built and furnished with nearly entirely synthetic materials that produce dense clouds of toxins when they burn. In fact, today’s residential fires have been equated to hazmat events, yet firefighters must enter these environments on a regular basis to save innocent lives.
As a result, cancer rates are soaring among firefighters. Jeff Strawn, the Missouri representative for Firefighters Cancer Support Network, explains that “Cancer is an epidemic with us.” A recent federal study discovered that firefighters are twice as likely to be diagnosed with testicular cancer and malignant mesothelioma, as well as have higher rates of lung, colon, and urinary tract cancers. Despite governments acknowledging that this epidemic exists, firefighters in Missouri and other states still have little to no chance of obtaining compensation for cancers that are job related.
When a firefighters dies in a fire or of smoke inhalation, his or her family receives a payment from the government of more than $343,000 and college tuition assistance. Dying of a cancer from fighting fires, however, does not earn such money right now. The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program has had 40 non-9/11 cancer death claims since 2010, and of those 40, 28 have been denied, 11 are still pending, and one was withdrawn. The numbers speak for themselves.
While legislation is currently attempting to make its way through the Missouri House of Representatives, the best option for Missouri firefighters or their survivors is to hire an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer like attorney Jeff Swaney at Swaney Law Firm to argue the issue of job-related cancer. Swaney has decades of experience fighting for employees to get them the workers’ compensation support they deserve, and he can do the same for cancer-stricken firefighters. Call today at 314-766-4697.