Workers’ Compensation Benefits now include all Volunteer Firefighters and EMS/Rescue Providers
Wolf signed Senate Bill 94 into law. Senate Bill 94 is the most recent change to Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws and represents an attempt by lawmakers to expand the availability of benefits to volunteer emergency responders across the board, including those who don’t actively respond to emergency calls. For help determining whether you fall under the Pennsylvania Legislature’s new definition of a voluntary emergency responder in terms of workers’ comp benefits, please call an experienced Wilkes Barre workers’ compensation lawyer today.
Prior to the most recent change enacted by Governor Wolf, many volunteer emergency responders who worked for cities and government agencies in Pennsylvania were not eligible for worker’s comp benefits if they were injured or killed while fulfilling their duties. The only exception to this rule applied in cases where the volunteer was responding to an emergency call at the time of his or her injury.
Senate Bill 94
Under the terms of Senate Bill 94, certain volunteers will be considered employees when it comes to their eligibility for workers’ compensation coverage. As a result of this change, members of volunteer emergency service organizations are now entitled to workers’ comp benefits if hurt while on the job. This includes:
- Volunteer firefighters;
- Members of a volunteer ambulance corps;
- Officers, directors, and any other members of lifesaving and rescue squads;
- Volunteer members of state parks and forest programs;
- Pennsylvania Deputy Game Protectors;
- Forest firefighters and forest fire protection employees;
- Volunteers with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources;
- Special waterways patrolmen;
- Volunteer members of hazardous materials response teams; and
- Local coordinators of emergency management.
With this expanded definition, individuals who fill the aforementioned positions will now be entitled to compensation if they are injured during a rescue. It is important to note, however, that this law specifically excludes social members of volunteer fire departments or ambulance corps if membership with that group is intended primarily to facilitate an affiliation with its members.
Additional Workers’ Comp Changes
While the signing of Bill 94 into law is the most recent major change made to the worker’s compensation laws in Pennsylvania, it will probably not be the only one. In fact, Pennsylvania lawmakers are also considering another law that would expand available benefits to first responders even further. One bill, in particular, if passed, would allow COVID-19 and related complications to be presumed an occupational illness for certain first responders.
Call Today with Your Workers’ Comp-Related Questions
If you work as a volunteer emergency responder and contracted COVID-19 or sustained another injury while on the job, you could be entitled to wage loss benefits, as well as medical coverage. Filing a COVID-19-related workers’ compensation claim is still a relatively new process, so if you have questions about your own ability to collect benefits, please call the Figured Law Firm at 570-954-9299 to speak with experienced Wilkes Barre workers’ compensation lawyer Keith Figured about your concerns.