Firefighters throughout Georgia have been on a campaign recently to gain better workers’ compensation benefits. Specifically, firefighters in the state want more coverage for cancer and cancer-related illnesses developed while performing regular job duties. It is not uncommon for firefighters to encounter dangerous chemicals and, of course, inhale smoke, even when using protective gear properly.
After a rousing debate lead by Georgia State Senator John Albers, who is also a firefighter in addition to his governmental career, it seems that firefighters in the state have landed a victory. The discussion was focused around lowering the level of evidence required in a firefighter’s workers’ compensation claim regarding cancer and cancer illnesses. Previously, a firefighter was required to show “clear and convincing” evidence that their occupation caused the development of their cancer. Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Albers and others involved in the campaign, the Senate has agreed that just “a preponderance” of evidence will suffice, which is a notably lower evidential requirement.
Georgia legislators originally resisted the lowering of evidential requirements out of fear that too many workers’ compensation claims paid out to firefighters for carcinogen exposure would drain the state’s coffers. A strong counterargument to this belief was citing other states who have low evidential requirements for identical and similar workers’ compensation claims. There is little proof that any of those states have experienced a sharp influx of claim filings, or a significant rise in claim payouts due to the lessened standards.
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Even with the new change to the evidential requirement for firefighter cancer claims, it may still be unexpectedly difficult for a claim to be accepted. This is especially true when considering that firefighters who have developed such serious illnesses and diseases may not reasonably have the time or energy to collect and organize even just “a preponderance” of evidence to back their claims.
If you have found yourself in such a situation and need help, please do not hesitate to reach out to The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC. We are a group of Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys who are adamant about protecting and upholding the rights of injured workers and heroic firefighters that deserve to lead comfortable lives unburdened by steep medical costs. Contact our office at any time to request an initial consultation with a legal team backed by 20+ years of total experience.