If you are a firefighter, police officer, or corrections officer, you may be aware that there is a special piece of legislation that protects you in the event that you suffer from tuberculosis, high blood pressure, or heart disease due to dangers associated with your profession. The Heart/Lung bill is the common name for Florida Statute 112.18, which sets forth the details of this protection.
Because of the Heart/Lung bill, when a firefighter, police officer, or corrections officer suffers a complete or partial disability or death because of high blood pressure, tuberculosis, or heart disease, their death or disability will be presumed to have been caused by their profession unless it can be proven that another factor was the actual cause of the condition that led to death or disability. For the purpose of the Heart/Lung bill, disability refers to work related restrictions that affect your ability to do your job. If you have one of the protected conditions, you may not file a Heart/Lung claim unless you are partially or fully disabled to such an extent that you lose income as the result of your disability. In order to receive the protections of the Heart/Lung Act, the police officer, corrections officer, or firefighter must not have had any evidence of heart disease, tuberculosis, or hypertension during a physical exam that was conducted prior to their entering their chosen line of duty.
The rebuttable presumption that is created by the Heart/Lung bill makes qualifying for worker’s compensation coverage much easier for those who have suffered damages or losses that are covered by the bill. In order for your employer to avoid paying worker’s compensation on your claim, they would have to provide evidence that a specific non-work cause like smoking or obesity caused the tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension that caused your disability or death.
Non-work causes are not the only thing that could result in your employer being able to overcome the presumption that your disability or death was caused by your line of work. If you filed a claim based upon the Heart/Lung Act after July 1 of 2010, you lose the protection of the presumption if you did not follow your doctor’s orders regarding the prescribed course of treatment for your illness, and that departure caused your condition to worsen. This can prove troublesome, because your prescribed course of treatment may include things that are not always easy to do, like stopping smoking or losing a certain amount of weight.
My law firm represents clients in long term disability insurance claims in Miami and throughout Florida. The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations. No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees. Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.