Earlier this year, Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a bill that would have helped Georgia firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer obtain much-needed workers’ compensation benefits. House Bill 216 passed both Georgia houses of congress, only to be vetoed by the Governor before the bill could become law.
The bill would have established a rebuttable presumption that certain types of cancer found in firefighters were “occupational diseases” under the state’s workers’ compensation statute. The presumption would only arise if the firefighter were able to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that their work caused the cancer. If the firefighter was able to meet that initial threshold, the burden would shift to the insurer to prove that the cancer was not work-related. As the law stands now, cancer is categorized as an “ordinary disease of life,” and those unfortunate enough to encounter a cancer diagnosis are unlikely to receive benefits.
Governor Deal’s rationale for vetoing the bill was that it was too broad because it failed to establish a timeline or to limit the types of cancer covered. He also stated that the rate of cancer among Georgia firefighters was not “abundantly demonstrated.”
Firefighters were understandably upset with the Governor’s decision to veto H.B. 216. They claim that the new materials used to build homes can emit toxic fumes when burned, leading to what they claim to be an increase in cancer diagnoses. According to one recent article discussing firefighters’ efforts to override the veto, the bill passed both houses of congress with sufficient support for an override. In Georgia, both houses of congress would have to vote by a two-thirds margin to override a Governor veto.
Establishing Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation in Georgia
Unfortunately, injured workers do not always have an easy time when seeking workers’ compensation benefits. While the above discussion about Georgia firefighters is fairly limited in scope to that profession, it does show a lack of concern on some level for injured workers.
Workers’ compensation is an insurance program, and like other insurance companies, those underwriting workers’ compensation polices operate on a for-profit motive. This can lead to an eye toward denying borderline cases. To learn more about workers’ compensation eligibility in Georgia, contact a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney.
Have You Been Injured on the Job?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits until you are able to safely return to work. However, establishing your eligibility is not always straightforward, and significant hurdles often arise, making it a difficult and time-consuming endeavor. The skilled advocates at J. Franklin Burns P.C. have decades of experience working with Georgia workers’ compensation laws, and we understand how important these benefits are to our clients. Call 404-303-7770 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney today.