Firefighters and police officers are at a higher risk for certain heart problems and cancer compared to the general public because of the stressful and dangerous nature of the jobs. This is why workers’ compensation law in California provides for a special heart and cancer presumption for certain police officers, firefighters and safety members.

There is no doubt that firefighters and police officers in California put their lives on the line for us every day. Unfortunately, these people usually sustain injuries that tend to reflect this grave danger. The good news is that there are specific laws in the state to help protect our firefighters and safety officers which are known in California’s workers’ comp field as presumptions. For example, the cancer presumption in the law makes it easier and quicker for a person to establish that their cancer illness is actually work-related.  Once proved work-related, a policeman or firefighter can receive an entire array of benefits. Some of them include total temporary disability and medical care, etc.

Pertinent Stats

Did you know that police officers face a thirty to seventy times higher risk of death because of cardiac issues than the general public when these people are involved in stressful and dangerous situations? It is worth mentioning that the extreme heat, especially given the California Wildfires, which firefighters often face in their job duties, has now been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks. And that is not all; intense physical and emotional demands can also trigger blood clots as well as weaken blood vessel function.

Benefits of Presumptions

It is no secret that presumptions are very beneficial for police and firefighters in the state. The California workers’ comp law presumes that specific injuries and illnesses arise during the normal course of employment. It means that the injured person in California is eligible for workers’ comp benefits. Keep in mind that in other circumstances, an individual applying for worker’s compensation benefits in the state has to prove that their injury arose within the scope of employment. This is where our Marin County workers’ compensation attorney can help you.

Purpose of California Emergency Service Personnel Presumptions

Keep in mind that it was the main intent of the legislature in enacting this specific series of emergency service workers presumptions of industrial causation to offer additional workers’ comp benefits to specific employees in the state, such as firefighters and police officers, who provide “vital and hazardous services” to the general public.

Other presumptive injuries for firefighters and peace officers in California can include:

  • Low Back Injuries

  • Hernia

  • Pneumonia

  • Tuberculosis

  • Meningitis

  • MRSA

  • Bio-Chemical Exposure

Type of Cancers You Can Claim

It is worth noting that there has been significant litigation at the Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board. Note that over the years, numerous cancers in California have been found to be presumptive. Note that some types of cancers that have been deemed presumptively industrial in California are as follows:

  • Appendiceal Cancer

  • Acute Myelogenous Leukemia

  • Brain Tumor (also called Pineal Blastoma)

  • Colon Cancer

  • Breast Cancer

  • Hodgkin’s Disease

  • Lung Cancer

  • Kidney Cancer

  • Lymphoma

  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

  • Multiple Myeloma

  • Pancreatic Cancer

  • Prostate Cancer

  • Stomach Cancer

  • Thyroid Cancer

  • Uterine Cancer

Labor Code 3212

California Labor Code 3212 is relevant for heart conditions. It provides for specific law enforcement providers, such as police, and safety providers, that heart trouble that develops or manifests itself in these cases should be presumed to arise in the course of and out of the employment. Keep in mind that this presumption is disputable. It can also be controverted by other evidence. However, unless that happens, the appeals board is, in most cases, bound to find in accordance with it. The law extends the presumption to a member after the termination of their service.

It is worth noting that this is for a period of 3 calendar months for every complete year of the requisite service; however, it should not exceed sixty months under any circumstances, starting with the previous date actually worked in that specific capacity.

Does your Position with your California Employer have the Heart Presumption?

This is an important question. Keep in mind that certain agencies in the state, while they’re law enforcement or safety, don’t apply this presumption. This is why you should check or verify that you actually have this presumption. A workers’ comp attorney in Marin County can be helpful in this regard. We have been helping individuals in Southern and Central California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for several years.

Note that even in case you don’t have this presumption, you can still file your case and pursue your heart injury or heart condition case to get the benefits. However, you have to keep in mind that there is one key difference and it is that you’ll carry the burden of proof rather than those who will benefit from this presumption.

Examples of Case Law Establishing Conditions where the Heart Presumption has Applied

Here’s a comprehensive list of some of the conditions and body parts where the presumption applies. However, you have to keep in mind that just because of the fact that this presumption applies doesn’t necessarily indicate that the presumption can’t be rebutted. You have to analyze any presumption case based on its own specific facts. This is where a workers’ comp attorney in Marin County can guide you.

Here are some examples.

  • Arrhythmias:  City of Huntington Beach vs.WCAB (2016) and Parish vs. WCAB (1989).

  • Scarring because of Rheumatic Fever and atherosclerosis of the Coronary Artery Valvular Lesions: State Employees’ Retirement System vs. W.C.A.B., 267 Cal.App.2d 611

  • Coronary Artery Disease or Arteriosclerotic Heart Disease: Gillette vs. W.C.A.B. 20 Cal.App.3d 312; Turner vs. W.C.A.B. 258 Cal.App.2d 442 and Bussa v. W.C.A.B., 259 Cal.App.2d 261.

  • Acute or Chronic Arteriosclerotic Occlusive Disease present in the iliac arteries: Stephens vs. W.C.A.B. 20 Cal.App.3d 461

  • Arteriosclerosis that manifests or develops in heart arteries: Kimber vs. The city of LA

  • Atrial Flutter: City of Huntington Beach vs. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (2016)

  • Cardiomyopathy: County and City of San Francisco vs. WCAB (1997)

Keep in mind that just because the heart attack presumption is applicable it doesn’t mean that the self-insured employer or insurer will admit your injury. In many presumption cases in California, unfortunately, insurers usually pretend that the presumption doesn’t exist and tend to deny your claim outright. And then they look for various reasons to rebut this presumption. The good news is that with all the right medical reports that support causation, you can establish these claims and receive the compensation you need and deserve. And we can help you with that.

Duty Belt Presumption

It is worth noting that there’s also a presumption that police officers who have to wear a duty belt and subsequently suffer from lumbar and back issues had their medical condition triggered by work. However, note that there are a few eligibility requirements, like full employment for 5 years prior to applying for your benefits, which you have to meet.

Take Full Advantage of the Special Rules that Protect Firefighters

If you are a firefighter or policeman, you can take full advantage of special workers’ comp benefits for California public workers. Keep in mind that insurance companies in the state are well aware of these benefits when you decide to file a claim for California worker’s compensation benefits and also complete all the necessary workers’ compensation forms. They will also notify you that you are eligible for these benefits. However, note that being aware of all your rights as a California policeman or firefighter is crucial to receive all the benefits you need and deserve.

Contact the Law Offices of Arjuna Farnsworth

If you are a firefighter, police officer, or law enforcement officer in California who has been diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, contact California’s workers’ compensation lawyer Arjuna right now for a free evaluation of your legal rights. Arjuna represents police officers and firefighters in presumption cases across California and has received top dollar workers’ comp settlements for injured employees.

As a safety officer in California who has sustained injuries, it’s vital that you protect all your rights and we are here to help you. You should also get the proper medical treatment as it will help you resume work. After working closely with many firefighters and policemen in California, we know and understand how much most of them love their jobs. This is why getting back to the job is a top priority for them. However, we also recognize that when getting back to your job isn’t a possibility or maybe the time has come for retirement, then maximizing your benefits is one of the top priorities.
If you’re a police officer or firefighter who was injured on the job, contact us at 415 -250-1044 for a free consultation, or you can fill out your claim evaluation form at Farnsworth Law Firm and Attorney Arjuna H. Farnsworth will call you within 24 hours in order to discuss the case for free. We will help you determine the best course of action for your case.