Better Deal for Firefighters with Cancer
Firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer should look at how amendments to Workers Compensation might benefit them.
Last November the NSW Parliament amended the Workers Compensation Act 1987 to make significant changes regarding firefighters who have been diagnosed with certain types of cancer.
This includes those employed to fight fires on behalf of Sydney Trains.
The amendments create a presumption that certain types of cancer are caused by a firefighter’s employment, which means that a workers compensation insurer would need to prove that the cancer was not caused by the worker’s employment.
An insurer would need convincing evidence to do prove that.
To benefit from the presumption, a firefighter must be an eligible firefighter. This requires the firefighter to have been engaged in firefighting duties where they are extinguishing, controlling or preventing the spread of fire or participating in training involving any of those activities.
A further eligibility criteria requires the firefighter to have been working in those duties for a certain period of time and been diagnosed with a certain type of cancer.
The periods of time differ between different types of cancer covered in the amendments. For example, the period of service for brain cancer is five years, whereas the period of service for oesophageal cancer is 25 years. There are other periods which fall between those examples for other types of cancer.
The amendments to the Act also consider firefighters who have lodged claims previously but had those claims declined by an insurance company on the basis that the disease did not relate to their employment.
Claimants with a cancer diagnosis who made a claim before 27 September 2018 and had it declined on the basis that the cancer did not relate to the employment, will benefit from the presumption. Firefighters that fall within that classification should immediately re-lodge their claims to ensure they benefit from the provision.
However, firefighters diagnosed with a qualifying cancer before 27 September 2018 who have not lodged a claim will not benefit from the presumption contained in the amendments. We speculate that the reason for this amendment is so that the floodgates do not burst open for people with earlier diagnosis of cancer and who did not previously make a claim.
Firefighters who fall within the classifications described above should consider making their claims promptly. RMB Lawyers can assist with these claims.
Are you currently or prevously used to be a fire figheter. If you have a question about workers compensation, please contact us. We'll be able to help you via a quick phone call, or ask us a question via email.