Welcome and Introduction

1:00 – 1:15 pm

Crystal Ballroom J1
Convention Level

Occupational disease cases for first responders, firefighters, and others have become some of the most complicated and costly in any workers’ compensation system. Even though it is known that certain diseases are more prevalent in first responder and firefighter industries, it is impossible to prove for an absolute certainty what causes certain medical conditions, judged on an individual basis, such as heart and hypertension disease and cancer. Proving certain types of mental conditions (PTSD) utilizing traditional methodologies for determining the compensability of occupational diseases has proven to be ineffective in adjudicating specific cases. Understanding the potential inequities of denying workers’ compensation to large segments of industries that are so important to our society, legislators have responded in different ways by adopting legislation that: 1) makes certain medical conditions presumptively related to job conditions (heart, hypertension, and others); 2) create different standards of proof for certain types of mental conditions (PTSD) utilizing different criteria for determining compensability with increased benefit entitlements; and 3) providing health insurance entitlements as an alternative to workers’ compensation (cancer).

These sessions are not intended to be a debate on whether these new approaches to workplace conditions should or should not be adopted. They “are what they are” and all stakeholders are going to have to deal with them, especially in regards to controlling costs. It is relatively certain that the numbers of reported workers’ compensation incidents will increase. The issues to be discussed in these sessions, after understanding the potential and in fact the certainty of increased costs, is how can stakeholders (including employers, carriers, claims handlers, attorneys, rehabilitation specialists, risk managers, medical case managers and providers) utilize “best practices” in controlling these increased costs with a focus on early return to work following the provision of quality medical care. This control begins even before a claim is filed.

Geoff Bichler, Attorney
Bichler and Longo, PLLC
Orlando, FL


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