There have been a 117 workers’ compensation claims involving cancer that have been filed by Texas firefighters over the last six years. According to the Texas Department of Insurance and media outlets, more than 90 percent of those claims have been denied. This is in spite of the fact that a 2005 state law requires governments to presume that cancer is caused by exposure to toxic carcinogens while working.
Union blames memo
All seven of the claims of firefighters since 2016 have been denied. Firefighters claim that cities are following a Texas Intergovernmental Risk Pool memo to avoid the presumption of cancer law. This memo claims that only three types of cancer can result from firefighting: non-Hodgkins lymphoma, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
The risk pool, which represents workers at 2,700 municipalities, goes on to point out that it is limited by law in how taxpayers’ money can be spent.
Claimants often choose not to appeal
Firefighters who appeal the initial ruling have won nearly 65 percent of the time over the last six years. Despite being higher than typical rates of overturn, only 20 percent of those initially denied choose to appeal. Reasons for this low number include the fact that municipalities can countersue their employees.
Strong legal guidance to municipalities in handling claims and appeals can always be helpful, regardless of the issue. It is wise to speak with an employment law attorney to determine if an employee’s worker’s comp claim has a high likelihood for success or whether there are other options.