NYC’s volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians give their time and put their safety on the line to protect New York residents. The risks are significant as the nature of these volunteer services involves racing into dangerous situations and controlling them.

If you were injured on the job or during volunteer work, a New York workers’ compensation lawyer from The Weinstein Law Group, PLLC can help you recover your losses. As New Yorkers, we’re grateful for your service and are ready to provide the high-quality, personal legal representation you need to secure compensation.

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What’s the difference between uniformed and volunteer firefighters and EMTs?

One difference between volunteer and uniformed firefighters and EMTs is their work hours. Paid workers have scheduled work times, whereas most volunteers operate “on-call.” That said, volunteers may have to fulfill hourly requirements or attend several calls to remain active in the department.

Other major differences between uniformed and volunteer emergency workers are training, compensation, and benefits.

Uniformed workers vs. volunteers: Training

Although career and volunteer fire departments must ensure their firefighters fulfill basic training requirements established by the U.S. Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are no required State training standards for volunteer firefighters. However, local departments may require in-house training for all members or particular members based on the member’s role.

Volunteers and uniformed EMTs must meet content-based minimum training requirements established by the New York State Department of Health. The number of hours of required training are:

  •  Certified First Responders: 48-60 hours
  • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs): 150-190 hours
  • Paramedics: 1,000-1,200 hours

Uniformed workers vs. volunteers: Compensation

Volunteers do not work for payment but offer their time without accepting wages. However, they can receive other benefits.

Under the New York State Volunteer Firefighters Benefits Law, volunteers are eligible for a wide range of care, including medical, dental, psychological, surgery, hospital care, labwork, prescription drugs, nursing care, and other treatment if injured in the line of duty. They may also receive weekly payments based on their determined earning capacity through New York’s workers’ compensation laws.

How do I know if my injury is covered?

Volunteer emergency workers are eligible for compensation if their injury occurs in the line of duty. Firefighters are on duty when engaged in:

  • Emergencies involving fires or other materials, or other alarm-triggering events
  • Travel to or from emergencies
  • Fire instruction, training, or school
  • Inspection or testing of vehicles or other related apparatus or gear
  • Fire department meetings
  • Department-supervised physical fitness classes
  • Fire prevention activities
  • Funerals, parades, tournaments, and fundraising events

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EMTs are also eligible for workers’ compensation if injured on the job. Typically, EMTs are considered on duty when:

  • At, or traveling to or from a response location
  • Assisting another ambulance company
  • Attending instructional or training programs
  • Participating in drills, funerals, or parades
  • Inspecting work vehicles
  • Participating in non-competitive fundraiser events

Neither group is covered for injuries sustained outside the line of duty, such as working for another employer or engaging in strictly recreational activities.

What are some exceptions outside of work for EMTs delivering medical aid?

There are some off-the-job injuries that may be covered, such as those that occur when a volunteer provides aid while off-the-clock and without expecting payment. This exception regards the aid offered by the volunteer as arising from the course of employment and extends workers’ compensation coverage to those situations.

Sometimes, insurance companies fight back against payouts, even to brave volunteers. They may claim you were injured doing work you were not ordered to perform or that you were involved in a “competitive” event. If their assertions are false, your attorney will work diligently to prove that and to get you the compensation your volunteer efforts warrant.

If you have been injured in a work-related injury, consult with a NYC volunteer EMS & firefighter lawyer from The Weinstein Law Group. Even if you aren’t sure if your injury will be covered, do not make assumptions. We will review your case for free, and if you are eligible to collect compensation, we will fight to get you what you deserve.

What are some common injuries sustained by volunteer firefighters and EMTs?

Whether full-time or volunteer, firefighters and EMTs are exposed to various intense situations requiring immediate responses.

Though they are vulnerable to many medical conditions, some of the more common injuries sustained by volunteer firefighters and EMTs include:

  • Burns – Burns typically require painful treatment and surgeries and can lead to life-threatening infections.
  • Damage from chemical exposure – Chemical exposure can burn the skin, eyes, and lungs upon fume inhalation. Chemical exposure can also cause brain and organ damage.
  • Musculoskeletal damage – Operating heavy equipment, moving debris, and lifting injured victims can easily strain muscles or lead to bone fractures.
  • Lacerations – Deep laceration may cause permanent nerve and soft-tissue damage. In the worst cases, lacerations can amputate, or require amputation, of the damaged body part.
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – Even moderate injuries, like concussions, take time to heal and can cause nausea, memory loss, dizziness, and other cognitive problems. More serious TBIs can leave volunteers with permanent cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities
  • Spinal cord injury – Compression of or blows to the spinal cord can have devastating consequences ranging from chronic numbness and weakness in affected parts of the body to paralysis.
  • Exposure to blood and bodily fluids: Dangerous pathogens can infect workers who come into contact with contaminated blood or bodily secretion, including but not limited to Hepatitis C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

The effects of these injuries intrude on all aspects of life. Volunteers may experience physical pain, diminished physical and cognitive abilities, and emotional distress. They also suffer significant financial costs from lost wages during recovery time, the influx of medical costs, and other expenses related to the injury. A NYC volunteer EMS lawyer will fight for coverage from workers’ compensation and, if applicable, by filing a claim against a negligent third party.

How an attorney can help

After sustaining an injury as a volunteer emergency services provider, you’ll need a strong legal advocate to represent your interests. The Weinstein Law Group has over 30 years of experience representing injured New Yorkers. You can count on our team to:

  • Carry out a thorough investigation of your accident and gather evidence to support your claim.
  • Assess the value of your physical, emotional, and financial injuries
  • Use our comprehensive knowledge of New York’s workers’ compensation and personal injury laws to fight for a fair settlement.
  • Provide legal support, compassion, and respect throughout your case.
  • Update on your case’s progress regularly.
  • Return all of your calls and address your questions and concerns.
  • Negotiate fiercely on your behalf with insurance representatives.
  • Use every technique possible to secure the benefits you deserve.

Our firm puts clients first. We will keep your best interests our focus from the beginning to the end of your case. We manage all the legal concerns while you concentrate on healing from your injuries so you can return to your volunteer service.

We listen, we care, and we fight hard

You have worked hard to protect New Yorkers through your generous sacrifice as a volunteer. Now, let our team of New Yorkers protect your rights, your health, and your future by working to secure compensation for the injuries and losses you’ve sustained. Some law firms treat their clients like file numbers. We care about our clients as fellow New Yorkers. We are ready to listen to your story and fight for a positive ending.

Send a message or call (212) 741-3800 to connect with The Weinstein Law Group, PLLC for a free consultation with an experienced NYC Volunteer EMS & Firefighter Lawyer.