Because Fine, Olin & Anderman, LLP (FOA) is committed to working with union members, everything we do is to benefit the worker. Whether you come to FOA because you have been injured on the job and are eligible for Workers’ Compensation, or can no longer work and need Social Security Disability Benefits, have a Personal Injury, or need an attorney for General Legal Services or Veterans Disability Benefits, we will be right there with you every step of the way, no matter how long it takes.
Workers’ Compensation for Volunteer Firefighters & Ambulance Workers
There are separate New York State workers’ compensation laws for volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance workers that recognize the unselfish, unpaid assistance of local residents in community service who are injured in the line of duty. Most of the provisions of these laws are the same as in the NYS Workers’ Compensation Law.
Who is covered by the law? (VFAW)
All New York volunteer firefighters are entitled to benefits under the law if they are active volunteer members of a fire company of a county, city, town, village or fire district and are injured in the line of duty.
Most New York volunteer ambulance workers are entitled to benefits under the law if they are active volunteer members of an ambulance company and are injured in the line of duty. Volunteer ambulance companies which are not under contract with a county, city, town, village or other political subdivision, or that do not wish to become special improvement districts of towns, may provide optional coverage to their workers.
What is “In the Line of Duty” for Firefighters?
Any of the following activities, pursuant to orders/authorization:
What is “In the Line of Duty” for Volunteer Ambulance Workers?
What is NOT “In the Line of Duty” for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers?
VFAW Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The injured or ill volunteer member who is eligible for compensation will receive necessary medical care directly related to the original injury or illness and the recovery from his/her disability. Medical care for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers (VFAW) is essentially the same as for employed workers. The cost of necessary medical services is paid by the subdivision or the insurance carrier. These paid costs include:
If the job-related injury/accident requires medical care, go to the nearest hospital or clinic. But for follow-up care choose your own physician.
At your first visit, ask if the doctor is registered with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, and will file a C-4 for you. No workers’ compensation claim can be established without medical documentation on a C-4 form.
No provider of medical care for a workers’ comp case (physician, nurse, dentist, hospital) may ask you to pay the bill. Their bills must be submitted directly to your subdivision’s insurance carrier.
Keep all receipts for out-of-pocket expenses you may incur, such as payment for medicines, etc. You will be reimbursed for these expenses if you can show documentation of the expense.
*Most workers in NYS have the right to choose their own physician for a Workers’ Compensation injury/illness. If you have been told you must see an employer-designated doctor, or go to a particular clinic, you should notify your attorney if you have legal representation.
Benefits are payable when the volunteer company responds as a unit, regardless of whether the injury occurred in the service of the home area or an aided area. Total disability, schedule loss or death benefits are fixed according to the Workers’ Compensation Board statute. In determining weekly benefits for other types of injuries, the loss of earning capacity is based on the ability of the person to perform the work usually and ordinarily performed in his/her regular employment.
Earning capacity is the capability of a volunteer member to perform on a 5-day or 6-day basis the work normally done in regular employment at the time of injury, or other work that could be considered a reasonable substitute if there is no employment. Every volunteer member is considered to have an earning capacity. The Board determines the reasonable earning capacity, considering the work that he/she could reasonably be expected to obtain and for which he/she would be qualified by age, education, training and experience. Benefits are payable from the first day of disability, with no waiting period.
The maximum weekly benefit, is set by the New York State Legislature. As of July 2008, the maximum rate is $550 per week. Beginning July 1, 2009, the maximum weekly rate will change to $600; on July 1, 2010, the maximum weekly benefit will be calculated based on the average New York State weekly wage.
If a volunteer firefighter or ambulance worker dies from a compensable injury, the surviving spouse and/or minor children, or in the absence of such, other dependents as defined by law, are entitled to continuing weekly cash benefits, depending on the date of death. A minor child is one that is under the age of 18, or under age 25 if enrolled in an accredited educational institution. In no instance may the weekly benefit amount exceed the legal maximum, regardless of the number of dependents. Weekly benefits for surviving spouses who remarry are paid a lump sum benefit of up to $41,600. If there are no minor children, the spouse receives the maximum amount. If there are children who are currently receiving the weekly benefit amount at the time of remarriage, the spouse receives a lump sum award of $22,800.
VFAW Disability Classifications
See general Workers’ Compensation classifications—they are the same.