Firefighters are consistently in the middle of some of the most dangerous and trickiest
situations one could imagine. From putting out a house fire to saving
lives after a car accident, there are plenty of reasons to appreciate
firefighters. However, a recent House Bill veto by Georgia Governor Nathan
Deal has stirred up controversy and started a heated argument.
Governor Veto Impacts Many
House Bill 216 was approved by Senate and House Members, and it would have
made it possible for firefighters in Georgia to get workers’ compensation
for cancer-related suffering, provided they could show it developed due
to their jobs. Since firefighters deal with burning materials regularly,
and the occasional hazmat cleanup, connections between workplace duties
and cancer diagnoses are not farfetched. Before the bill was approved
– and afterwards due to the veto – cancer was considered to
be an “ordinary disease of life” by Georgia legislation and
therefore would not be considered in
workers’ compensation claims.
Several months after the veto in May, firefighters are still not giving
up the fight. When the new legislative session begins in early January,
they will have a fresh opportunity to keep HB216 alive. If a two-thirds
majority in the House and Senate decide to override the Governor’s
veto, it will be reinstated. When the bill originally passed in March,
it did so with more than enough votes.
The Governor claimed he decided to veto the bill due to an uncertainty
regarding how much it would cost taxpayers to add cancer to a list of
approved conditions for firefighter’s workers’ compensation
claims. He also expressed some skepticism that the problem was widespread
enough to warrant legislative change.
With the end of the year nearly here, it will only be a few short days
before Georgia residents and firefighters see how the Congressional change
views the bill and the veto. In the meantime, if you are a firefighter
in Georgia and believe you are getting shorted in terms of workers’
compensation for an on-the-job injury, you can call
770.285.5542 to speak with a Cobb County workers’ compensation lawyer from Chestnut
& Beller. With nearly 60 years of combined legal experience and an
AV Preeminent® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®, you know you can
trust us with your case.
Free initial consultations are available to inquiring parties.