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Volunteer firefighter covered under workers' compensation

Like private sector employees, injured New York public workers are entitled to workers' compensation. Workers' compensation covers any expenses that may arise from a workplace injury. These can include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If governmental employees are permanently disabled from the injury and are unable to return to work, workers' compensation maybe the only way employees can continue to pay their bills.

A New York court recently expanded which employees are covered by workers' compensation. In this case, a woman was working as a volunteer firefighter in Scipio, New York, in 2009. The fire department urged all employees and volunteers to get a flu shot. To comply with this requirement, the woman went to a clinic to get the shot. During the legal case, the woman noted that she would not have gotten a flu shot otherwise.

On her way back from the clinic, the woman was involved in a serious car accident. As a result of the accident, the woman suffered many injuries including a traumatic brain injury.

The woman applied for workers' compensation benefits with the workers' compensation board. The benefits were approved under the Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law. The fire district and its workers' compensation insurance carrier both appealed the decision.

Recently, the appeals court agreed with the workers' compensation board. According to the appeals court, because she was performing a duty required by her employer, she is entitled to compensation even though she was not technically working at the time of the accident.

This case could be important to other New York injured workers who were injured away from work but doing something that is within the scope of their duties.

Source: Safety BLR, "Court: firefighters covered by workers' comp," July 24, 2012

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