Being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or paramedic can be a very fulfilling job because you are helping others in emergency situations, sometimes literally saving their lives. However, it is also inherently a very dangerous job. Because of this, many EMT and paramedics can suffer injuries or illnesses while performing their job duties and need to take time off work while they recover. Fortunately, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey.
Why EMTs and Paramedics Are Injured or Suffer Illnesses Due to Their Job
While paramedics and EMTs may be aware of some of the dangers of their jobs, they cannot always prevent an accident from occurring. Common causes of injuries and illnesses include:
- Vehicle crashes. One of the biggest causes of paramedic and EMT injuries is vehicle accidents. Because these workers are in ambulances and are rushing either to get to a patient or to transport him to a hospital, they can suffer life-threatening injuries in an accident when a negligent driver fails to pull over and allow the ambulance to pass.
- Aggressive patients. First responders often must deal with aggressive and violent patients due to factors like mental illness, pain, or intoxication. These paramedics can suffer serious injuries if they are attacked by a patient.
- Building collapse. Like firefighters, paramedics must sometimes enter dangerous buildings to rescue injured victims of a fire or other accident. If the building collapses, the EMT as well as his patient could be crushed and suffer life-threatening injuries or die.
- Burns. Paramedics and EMTs can suffer burns causing permanent scarring and disfigurement when they must assist an injured victim in a vehicle or building fire.
- Explosions. Unfortunately, first responders can be near a truck carrying hazardous materials or in a factory or industrial plant helping victims when an explosion occurs. This can cause the paramedic to suffer catastrophic injuries or death.
- Blood-borne infections. Because EMTs are the first medical providers to see a patient in an emergency situation, they face an increased risk of developing a blood-borne infection or other illnesses due to exposure to hazardous substances. In addition, when equipment is not cleaned and maintained properly, this can lead to paramedics developing infections.
- Lifting. Paramedics can suffer neck, back, shoulder, and other injuries from the heavy lifting of patients and from moving stretchers carrying patients.
- Slip and fall accidents. EMTs can suffer traumatic brain injury, fractures, and back and spine injuries if they slip and fall due to torn carpeting or damaged flooring, spills, debris, cracked concrete and potholes in driveways or parking lots, and other hazards. These accidents are common because these workers do not have time to watch for potential dangers in the rush to get to their patients.
When You Could Have a Third Party Claim as Well as a Claim for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
In some cases, you could have a separate claim against a third party as well as the right to workers’ compensation benefits. By pursuing both claims, you would increase the likelihood of being fully compensated for your injuries. This is especially important given the seriousness of the injuries you could suffer. A few situations where you could have a separate claim for compensation include:
- Negligent driver. If a negligent driver caused your vehicle accident, you can file a claim for compensation with his insurance company.
- Defective equipment. You may have a products liability claim if your injuries were caused by defective equipment.
- Dangerous buildings and other hazards. If a business or property owner’s negligence caused you to be injured in a dangerous building, you could have a premises liability claim against the owner. In addition, you may have a claim against the owner if you were injured in a slip and fall accident caused by hazardous conditions.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you identify all potentially liable parties and fight for the compensation you deserve. Because you could suffer much more catastrophic injuries due to the dangers of your job, you may have to fight longer and harder to obtain the workers’ comp benefits you are entitled to under New Jersey law. Call our Morris Plains office or start an online chat to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation and get your questions answered.