Cancer Presumption Bill Approved by Florida Senate
January 27, 2017 marked an important day for Florida firefighters diagnosed with certain types of cancer. On this day, a Florida Senate committee unanimously approved a bill – Bill 158 – that would shift the burden of proof from certain work-related injuries from the claimant to the employer. The bill must be voted on by both houses of the Florida legislature and signed by the governor before it can become effective.
What does Bill 158 say?
Bill 158 establishes a presumption as to a firefighter’s health condition or impairment caused by certain types of cancer contracted in the line of duty. Section 2(a) of Bill 158 reads as follows:
“Any condition or impairment of the health of a firefighter employed full time by the state or any municipality, county, port authority, special tax district, or fire control district which is caused by multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate cancer, or testicular cancer and results in total or partial disability or death is presumed to have been accidental and to have been contracted in the line of duty unless the contrary is shown by competent evidence.”
How does this bill affect workers’ compensation cases?
If approved, there will be a presumption that any firefighters diagnosed with multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate cancer, or testicular cancer, contracted the disease as part of their work as firefighters. The government entity employing the afflicted firefighter can attempt to demonstrate – by providing “competent evidence” – that the condition was not work-related.
Certain requirements must be met
The bill outlines certain requirements that must be met for a firefighter to qualify for this presumption. These requirements are as follows:
- Successfully passing a physical examination administered prior to the individual beginning service as a firefighter; the results must fail to reveal any evidence of such a health condition
- Individual must be employed as a firefighter with the current employer for a minimum of five continuous years prior to becoming totally or partially disabled or prior to their death
- Prior to becoming totally or partially disabled or before his/her death, individual must not have used tobacco products for at least five years
- During the preceding five years, the individual may not have been employed in any other position – including employment as a firefighter at another employing agency — that is proven to create an increased risk for multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate cancer, or testicular cancer
If a physical was not performed at the time of hiring or immediately thereafter, the presumption stands assuming all the other requirements are met.
Pending workers’ compensation changes have profound impact, so rely on a Board Certified workers’ compensation lawyer for guidance
Florida’s workers’ compensation laws are complex and pending changes to these laws have a profound impact on injured workers. If you are a firefighter who has been diagnosed with a work-related condition, or are a worker who has suffered a workplace injury, we are here to help. For more than 20 years, Board Certified workers’ compensation attorney Joseph M. Rooth has been helping injured workers secure the benefits they deserve. Knowledgeable, compassionate, and personally dedicated to each case, attorney Rooth serves clients throughout the Tampa Bay area, with convenient offices in New Port Richey, Spring Hill, Seminole and Clearwater. To schedule a free consultation with attorney Rooth, contact the office at 727-849-3400 or online.