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The Legal Side of Firefighters and Cancer in Nevada

The Legal Side of Firefighters and Cancer in Nevada

Firefighters are often exposed to toxic substances during the course of their careers. A fire can release an incredible amount of potentially cancer-causing materials into the air and environment, adding a pervasive and challenging danger to an already dangerous job. Unfortunately, cancer claims many firefighters’ lives. For that reason, Nevada’s workers’ compensation law provides specific protection for firefighters who develop cancer as a consequence of their work.

Nevada defines cancer as an occupational disease of firefighters

NRS 617.453 specifically defines as an occupational disease a cancer that is caused by exposure to toxins during a firefighter’s duties and results in the firefighter’s temporary or permanent disability, or death. The statute provides benefits for firefighters who either have been in full-time service in Nevada or worked as volunteer firefighters (as defined in NRS 616A.145) for five years or more. To qualify for coverage, the firefighter must have been exposed to a known carcinogen in the course of his or her employment, and the carcinogen must be “reasonably associated with the disabling cancer.”

The statute provides a nonexclusive list of known carcinogens and their related cancers; if a firefighter’s cancer is not on the list, the firefighter can offer evidence to show that the cancer was caused by a particular carcinogen. A firefighter’s cancer is presumed to be related to the job, however an employer can seek to overcome this presumption by showing that the cancer has another source.

The statute also protects recently retired firefighters who develop cancer after leaving the service. A formula determines how much time a retiree will be covered by the law from retirement to diagnosis: 3 months for every year of service up to a maximum of 60 months.

For qualified cancers, the statute provides for full reimbursement for expenses related to the firefighter’s medical treatment as well as the standard slate of benefits available for death or disability under Nevada’s industrial insurance law.

GGRM serves our first responder community

Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has proudly served Las Vegas first responders for more than 45 years. If you or a loved one is a firefighter who is battling cancer and you would like to speak to an attorney about how Nevada workers’ compensation law works, our attorneys are here to help. Call us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request through our contact page.