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New Maryland Law Expands Workers’ Compensation for Fire & Rescue Personnel


Among many other new laws set to take effect on October 1st, fire and rescue personnel will benefit from expanded workers’ compensation coverage, according to an article by the Maryland Reporter.

Under existing Maryland workers’ compensation law, certain public service employees have a presumption of an occupational disease. This presumption is due to the hazards involved with the performance of official duties. Essentially, if these public service employees contract certain conditions — such as cancer or leukemia — it is presumed that the condition arose out of employment. As a result, these public service employees can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Officially referred to as House Bill 604 (HB604), this initiative will make it easier for firefighters and other rescue personnel to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits due to occupational disease. Previously, fire and rescue personnel had to reach 10 years of service within the same department. After October 1st, fire and rescue workers will simply need to reach 10 years of service across multiple state departments.

In terms of impact, HB604 will apply to following categories of fire and rescue personnel working for the State of Maryland:

  • Career Firefighters;
  • Volunteer Firefighters;
  • Fire Marshals;
  • Firefighting Instructors;
  • Rescue Squad Members; and
  • Advanced Life Support Unit Members.

The types of disease for which the aforementioned public service employees can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits can include:

  • Leukemia;
  • Prostate Cancer;
  • Rectal Cancer;
  • Throat Cancer;
  • Multiple Myeloma;
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma;
  • Brain Cancer;
  • Testicular Cancer; and
  • Breast Cancer.

Before passage of HB604, a fire or rescue worker had to prove certain elements in order to claim workers’ compensation benefits due to leukemia or various forms of cancer. Specifically, the fire or rescue worker had to demonstrate that they:

  • Contracted leukemia of cancer as a result of exposure to a toxic substance while performing their official duties;
  • Served at least 10 years within the same department where they currently serve (e.g. fire, rescue, police, etc.);
  • Are incapable of performing their usual duties as a result of leukemia or cancer; and
  • Completed applicable physical standard examination, if employed in a volunteer capacity.

After passage of HB604, the conditions under which a fire or rescue worker qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits will be slightly different. Instead of 10 years in the same department, these public service employees can complete a decade of service within any of multiple state departments.

Additionally, fire and rescue workers will not need to show that they are incapable of performing their official duties. Instead, they will need to demonstrate that they sustained partial disability, total disability, or death as a result of leukemia or cancer.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you need legal help with a workers’ compensation claim in Maryland, it can be tremendously helpful to contact a skilled workers’ compensation attorney. The Baltimore workers’ compensation attorneys at Iamele & Iamele, LLP have numerous years of combined legal experience with workers’ compensation cases. If you need legal help, contact us today for a free initial consultation.






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