Changing one life today, affecting hundreds of lives tomorrow
One call, and a lot of patience, put injured retired firefighter Brent Bean into the annals of legal history.
“I called Toby Yurek at GGRM, and he picked up right away,” said Bean, a Las Vegas native. “He really listened. It meant a lot to get a real person who understood my frustration and of so many out there who haven’t been treated fairly.”
His recent case arguing that retired firefighters were entitled to full compensation based on their salaries, Clark County Vs. Bean went all the way to the Nevada Supreme Court. In October of last year, it ruled in favor of Bean.
“I’m happy that there is a precedent set,” said Bean, who served with the Clark County Fire Department for 30 years as an engineer before retiring in 2011. “That was my goal all along and that is what made it all worthwhile.”
Three years after reaching his retirement, Bean was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In his battle for his life, part of his prostate was removed. Debilitating side effects brought on physical limitations and depression for the optimistic and athletic family man. He eventually processed a claim for occupational disease benefits seeking ongoing permanent partial disability benefits. Clark County rejected his claim based on the fact that he was retired and therefore not pulling in a salary to base a permanent partial disability benefits award.
“It was a serious disability, and for them to dismiss it was wrong,” Bean said. “That tipped me over.”
Bean went to a trusted friend and fellow firefighter for advice, who handed him a slip of paper with Yurek’s name and cell phone number scrawled across the top. That one phone call gave Bean hope, as well as Yurek.
“He’s just a good, honest man who served his community as a firefighter,” Yurek said. “There was no dispute he was due rightful compensation. The bigger issue, and it’s one that we have felt for a long time, is that insurance companies and their attorneys were trying to exploit workers.”
Yurek had seen many cases that mirrored Bean’s. However, the lengthy legal battle can be exhausting and the offered settlements tempting.
“Clients have been physically hurt, and they get frustrated, beaten down,” Yurek said. “When the settlement conference comes, they are tired. There’s a financial risk if they don’t take the settlement, so they often do because they have to.”
Yurek realized early on that Bean had a passion for helping others and the fortitude to take his case to the supreme court.
“He was extremely patient and saw the bigger picture,” Yurek said. “He was gracious enough to allow us to go through the process, patient with the delays, and we absolutely prevailed. Lisa did a great job taking it to the supreme court.”
When the case first came across her desk, Lisa Anderson immediately saw how that the worker’s compensation and the lawyers’ interpretation of the law was a detriment to the retired firefighter.
“They not only deny Mr. Bean, but they also deny all the workers behind him,” said Anderson, who prepared early to take the case to the Nevada Supreme Court. “Mr. Bean understood that. We kept him informed, and he kept us going.”
It would take six years and countless mediations to finally be heard by the Nevada Supreme Court. Ultimately, the court reversed Clark County’s denial of Bean’s claim for ongoing partial disability benefits. The decision stated he was due wages based on his salary before retirement.
“We helped change the law for those who will come after Mr. Bean,” Anderson said. “We will continue to fight until we get all of it cleaned up and fix the holes in the law. Helping people, that is the ultimate victory.”
Occupational Disease and Firefighters
Generally, workers must establish a connection between their jobs and their medical condition in order for it to be considered an occupational disease. For some professions, such as firefighters and arson investigators, there is a presumption that some conditions were caused by the work. For firefighters, these conditions include contagious diseases, heart disease, lung disease, and cancer.
Let GGRM Help
If you suffer from a medical condition that is related to your work, you should have your case reviewed by an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. GGRM has been helping injured workers for over 50 years. To set up your free consultation, contact us online or call us at 702-384-1616 today.