Increased Risk of Cancer for Firefighters

Firefighters put their lives on the line every single day to protect their communities. In addition to the immediate risk of being caught in a fire, firefighters face additional health risks. Constant exposure to smoke and hazardous chemicals puts them at a substantially higher risk of developing cancer.

Those who develop an illness as a result of their line of work may be entitled to compensation. However, employers don’t always make it easy for injured employees to file a claim. Learn more about your rights and what comes next by calling The Dodd Law Firm at 475-275-8649.

What the Research Says

Numerous studies have examined the link between firefighting and subsequent cancer risk. One study, which was covered by the CDC, looked at firefighters in Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

The multi-year study found that firefighters had a significantly higher risk of digestive, oral, respiratory, and urinary cancers than the general population. Additionally, they developed malignant mesothelioma at a rate twice that of the general population. This may be explained by exposure to asbestos. Younger firefighters experienced higher diagnosis rates of prostate and bladder cancers.

This study also looked at how often firefighters were exposed to fire. More time spent in fires was linked to a greater risk of lung cancer, and the chance of leukemia death increased with the number of fire runs each firefighter went on.

The Firefighter Cancer Support Network also follows research in this area. One study found that cancer caused 66% of firefighter deaths that happened in the line of duty between 2002 and 2019. It was the reason for 70% of line-of-duty deaths in 2016. Their analysis also shows just how much the risk for certain cancers goes up. For example, the risk of testicular cancer is two times higher, and the risk for both multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is about 1.5 times higher.

Is It a Work-Related Illness?

The workers’ compensation system helps those who are injured or become ill while working. If an employee’s illness is caused by their work, they may be entitled to compensation. Under Connecticut law, occupational diseases do qualify for compensation.

The issue is proving that your illness is work-related. While it should be relatively easy to file a workers’ compensation claim, begin receiving medical care, and get partial income repayment, some workers’ insurance compensation providers do make it more challenging.

Compensation for Work-Related Illnesses

The workers’ compensation system in Connecticut provides benefits to injured and ill workers. You may be entitled to medical care for your diagnosis and partial replacement of your lost wages. Surviving family members of someone who dies as a result of an occupational illness can receive survivors’ benefits.

Filing a Claim

In Connecticut, you have three years from the date of your first symptoms to file a workers’ compensation claim. That doesn’t mean that you should wait that long, though. The sooner you recognize worrying symptoms and get them checked out, the sooner you can begin treatment and fight for a good outcome. Additionally, this also allows you to auto-receive benefits sooner.

The process for filing an occupational disease claim is the same as filing a claim for an injury. You will report your illness to your employer, and they will file a claim on your behalf. You will need to submit corroborating documentation and follow the steps laid out by the workers’ compensation insurance provider.

When do you need an attorney? Look for any signs that your employer will refuse to file a claim on your behalf or deny your claim. If they ask leading questions that imply your diagnosis isn’t work-related or try to delay filing, they may be stalling so they can look for a valid reason for denial.

Of course, you’ll also want to consult an attorney if your claim is denied. Cancer treatment costs are extraordinarily high, and you shouldn’t be on the hook for expenses related to an occupational illness.

Start Your Claim with The Dodd Law Firm

When you’re ready to start your claim, we’re here with you every step of the way. Set up a meeting now by calling us at 475-275-8649 or sending us a message online.

Vaping Injuries

Vaping is a trend that has exploded in popularity during the last decade, attracting teenagers and adults alike. However, it has caused a huge range of health issues and injuries. It has a reputation for being less risky than smoking and even a healthy way to stop smoking, but as injuries continue to pile up, people are starting to ask questions.

If you or someone you love has been injured while vaping, you may wonder who’s responsible and if you are entitled to compensation. Let us take a look at your case and help you with the next steps. Call The Dodd Law Firm at 475-275-8649 to set up a consultation now.

A Worrying Increase in Injuries

Unfortunately, vaping has become known by many as being a better alternative to smoking or a way to “wean off” of regular cigarettes. This has led many people to turn to vaping, not knowing just how harmful it can be to their health.

There’s a sizable body of research showing that vaping is incredibly dangerous for your health. Per Johns Hopkins Medicine, research in early 2020 found that there were nearly 3,000 cases of lung injury related to vaping and over 50 deaths resulting from lung injury. The risk is significantly higher for those who use modified vapes or non-approved liquids, including those that have THC.

Additionally, research indicates that vaping is just as addictive as smoking. People who try vaping in order to stop smoking may simply be trading one addiction for another with little to no health benefit. On top of that, not everyone who vapes is doing so because it can help them stop smoking.

Some, especially teenagers, turn to vaping because it looks cool, is convenient, and does not have the unpleasant smell of cigarettes. Vaping may actually be causing addiction in those who otherwise would never have picked up a cigarette.

Dangerous Chemicals in E-Cigarettes

Vaping liquid has a variety of chemicals that may cause serious health issues. While the liquid may not have the 7,000 or more chemicals found in a single cigarette, it’s still very dangerous.

Propylene glycol and glycerine, which can be carcinogenic under certain circumstances, are two of the most common chemicals. They also include benzoic acid, nicotine, and a variety of chemicals that create artificial flavorings. An uptick in EVALI (e-cigarette and vaping-associated lung injury) has been linked to these ingredients and those found in the modified or homemade liquid.

Who is Liable for Vaping Illnesses and Injuries?

This raises one major question: who is responsible for vaping-related injuries and who is liable for the damage they cause? Connecticut law places responsibility for unsafe or hazardous products on their manufacturers. The Connecticut Product Liability Act allows injured consumers to file claims based on negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty.

This is a fairly nuanced area of law, as vaping is commonly known to have some degree of danger. Manufacturers may argue that users assume the risks associated with vaping when they choose to use e-cigarettes. While users may legally accept the risk of vaping when they vape, that does not allow manufacturers to act negligently in their design or marketing of products.

One issue that you may explore in a product liability claim is how vaping is marketed and how specific manufacturers market their devices. By marketing them to an audience that includes teenage users, despite the fact that Connecticut law does not allow those younger than 21 to purchase vapes, they are encouraging those at the greatest risk of injury to vape. Additionally, this marketing could encourage underage users to obtain modified or black-market vaping devices that may or may not be safe.

Another issue to look into is the actual manufacturing of the devices and the liquid used in them. If there are inherent flaws in the device or liquid, the manufacturer is responsible for those defects—even if the device itself poses an enhanced risk of health concerns.

Call The Dodd Law Firm to Discuss Your Vaping Injuries

If you or a loved one has been injured by a vaping device, don’t wait any longer to find out if you are entitled to compensation. The team at The Dodd Law Firm is ready to help. Call us at 475-275-8649 or get in touch with us online to set up a consultation.

Remedies Available to Injured Delivery Workers

The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for delivery services.  The increase of packages delivered this time of the year means that workers doing delivery work are more active than at any other time.  With this increased business, extra hours, and additional stops come an increased risk of injury.

Any employee who is injured during the course of working for a delivery service will likely have multiple legal remedies available.

Workers’ Compensation

The primary type of compensation available to you in this situation is workers’ compensation. The benefit of this system, which is managed by the State of Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission, is that you don’t have to prove that anyone else caused your injury.

Whether it was an unavoidable accident, your own mistake, or a coworker’s error, you’re entitled to compensation simply because your injury happened at work. As a result, this is often the easiest way to get some income coming in while you get medical treatment paid for by your employer. There are situations where your employer or their workers’ comp insurance company will push back against your claim, but this isn’t common.

What to Do If Someone Else is Responsible for Your Injury

There are limitations to workers’ compensation. It only pays partial income replacement and medical expenses that are approved by the insurance provider. You cannot get full income replacement, pain and suffering, or other types of compensation. However, in certain circumstances, you may be able to seek additional compensation from the liable party.

You may be able to bring a personal injury claim against the liable party if they were a third party. This means someone other than you and your employer. Note that “your employer” includes anyone employed by your company. If your employer caused the accident through unsafe working conditions or a coworker caused your injury through negligence, you cannot bring a personal injury claim against them.

There are several types of third-party claims that may be available to you as a delivery driver:

Third-party claims

In addition to a Workers’ Compensation claim, there may also be the possibility of a third-party lawsuit.  This would be a civil lawsuit against the party responsible for the injury.  These types of cases provide compensation for injuries not included in Workers’ Compensation claims.  Specifically, a civil lawsuit will provide compensation for pain and suffering.  Third party lawsuits that may arise from delivery work may include, but are not limited to:

Dog bite claims

If you were bitten by a dog when trying to deliver a package, you can likely take legal action against the owner. Connecticut is not a “one bite” state. A dog does not have to be proven dangerous before owners are liable for the dog’s actions. Owners are responsible for the harm their dogs cause, regardless of whether it’s their first bite or not. As a delivery person, you are permitted to be on the premises, and you deserve to be safe from aggressive dogs. You can talk to an attorney about your next steps.

Premises liability claims

Homeowners and business owners have an obligation to keep their property safe and navigable for visitors and guests. If your injury was the result of poorly maintained property, you could take legal action against the property owner. Examples include an icy sidewalk that was not properly salted, a crumbling staircase that gave way under your feet, or a stair handrail that was improperly installed.

Auto claims

Delivery drivers spend a substantial amount of time on the road, and that means a greater risk of an accident. If you’re involved in a car accident that is the fault of the other driver, you may be able to sue them for your losses. In some cases, you may also have a claim against the vehicle manufacturer, the municipality that maintains the roads, or another party.

How an Attorney Can Help

If you have a workers’ compensation claim that the insurance provider is refusing to pay out, an attorney can help you prove your case and secure the money you are owed. If you have a third-party claim, your attorney can move forward with a personal injury claim on your behalf.

Contact The Dodd Law Firm Now to Talk About Your Legal Options

Are you ready to move forward with your personal injury claim? Let’s sit down and talk about what comes next. Call the Dodd Law Firm at 475-275-8649 or reach out to us online.

Out of State Car Accident

Traveling out-of-state is stressful enough, thanks to booking hotel rooms, trying to navigate an unfamiliar area, and familiarizing yourself with local speed limits and signage. It gets even worse when you’re involved in a car crash far from home. How do you get your vehicle repaired and back home? Will your trip have to be extended? How are you supposed to fight for compensation when you don’t even live where the accident happened?

You don’t have to go through this time alone. Working with an attorney local to the accident location can help you minimize your stress and focus on getting back home. Call the Dodd Law Firm at 475-275-8649 for help with your Cheshire, CT car accident.

Factors That Complicate Out-of-State Collisions

There are lots of different factors that turn an already-stressful car accident into an absolute nightmare. Read more about them below:

  • You’re dealing with different laws. No matter how familiar you are with accident laws in your home state, that knowledge may be irrelevant when you’re injured out of state. Consider, for example, contributory negligence states. If you’re from a state where you can recover compensation as long as you are less than 50% at fault, you may expect that to be the standard everywhere. Then you’re injured in an Alabama car accident, and you find out that if you are even 1% at fault you cannot be compensated for the crash. There are many state-specific laws that apply here.
  • The other driver knows the laws and locale better than you. The other driver may know local roads and laws, which may help them when it comes time to talk to the police.
  • You may not even be able to seek compensation from the other driver. If you’re hurt in a state with no-fault insurance laws, you may not be able to seek compensation from the other driver—even if they are clearly at fault. In no-fault states, both parties are compensated by their own insurance companies.
  • If your case goes to court, it will be in the state where the accident occurred. After an experience like this, you probably don’t want to go back to that state any time soon. Unfortunately, if your case goes to court, you may have to. This adds additional stress, time, and unexpected costs to your case.
  • A lawyer in your home state may not be able to help you. You will likely need an attorney who is licensed in the state where the accident occurred. This means you can’t use any of your local connections or resources to find the best attorney for your situation.

What About Your Insurance?

Fortunately, your insurance policy doesn’t change from state to state. Report the accident to them in a timely manner, cooperate with their investigation, and know that you’ll likely still get the same service and coverage that you would get for an accident at home.

Your Next Steps

We know you’re overwhelmed and frustrated by your situation, but don’t lose hope. You have options. We recommend:

  • Talking to an attorney. Find an attorney licensed in the state where the accident occurred. They can give you an overview of the state’s personal injury and motor vehicle crash laws, and if they are familiar with your home state, they can explain how those laws differ. Find out how these differences may affect your claim and what you should do next.
  • Holding off on talking to the other party’s insurance company. The other party’s insurance provider may come after you fairly quickly, looking for a recorded statement or your side of the story. Don’t talk to them yet. Wait until you have advice from your attorney before moving forward.
  • Seeking medical care. It’s crucial to get checked out after an accident. You’ll want immediate detection and treatment for life-threatening injuries that may be lying in wait.

Reach Out to the Team at the Dodd Law Firm Now

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Connecticut, we’re here to help. Schedule a consultation with the Dodd Law Firm now to learn more about your options. Just reach out online or call our team at 475-275-8649.

Should I Be in a Hurry to Return to Work After a Personal Injury?

Recently, accidental injuries became the number three cause of death in the U.S. for the first time according to figures from the National Safety Council. In one year alone, fatalities from preventable injuries rose 10%. Americans are hurt every second on average, and someone loses their life every three minutes in our nation.

Preventable events include things like auto and truck accidents, drowning incidents, poisoning, falls, and workplace accidents. If you’ve been involved in an accident, your priority should be your health and well-being. But what if you have bills to pay and need to get back to work? When you should return to work after an accident depends on a variety of factors, but it might not be the best idea to rush back to your job if you’re hurt.

When Do You Have to Return to Work?

You don’t have to return to work after an injury but failing to do so at the proper time could put your job in jeopardy. Like nearly all states, Connecticut is an “employment-at-will” state, meaning an employer can generally terminate their relationship with an employee for any reason and at any time. But there are some exceptions.

If you have an employment contract or are part of a collective bargaining agreement, your employer isn’t supposed to fire you without cause. You also have protections for military service, jury duty, and certain other court appearances.

Assuming your injury is work-related and covered by workers’ compensation insurance, your employer is required to hold your job or something equivalent open as long as you are still trying to return to work.

But what if you were in a car accident or had a slip and fall at a neighbor’s house? Unfortunately, employers don’t owe you the same consideration, but you do have some options.

Time Off of Work for Non-Work-Related Injuries

As a general rule, you can’t demand that your employer do much for you after you’ve been injured, except what is required by law. The good news is that you do have some rights, and probably a few benefits, that you can use for time off after an injury that was not work-related.

Paid Sick and Vacation Leave

Many employees accrue paid sick and vacation leave, although this is not granted by law for private enterprises. Although you can’t demand it, you can ask to be allowed to take your sick and vacation leave while you recover from your injury.

Leave Under the Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives injured or sick employees and immediate family members up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a long list of covered conditions. After 12 weeks, you are supposed to get your same position back or one that is equivalent.

Work Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

You may be able to return to work only part-time or to light duty if you qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If your injury or illness qualifies, this requires that an employer transfer you to a position, if it is available, or make reasonable accommodations.

The Dangers of Returning to Work Too Quickly

When you’ve been seriously injured, it’s not always the best idea to return to work immediately. As an employee, you have value for your company, and you probably need the wages and benefits. But, heading back to work too soon might not be in the best interests of either you or your employer.

If you have a work-related injury, you can’t return to work until you have a medical release from your treating physician. If you are released to light duty, and your employer makes this available, you’ll need to return to your job, or you will forfeit your benefits.

When it comes to non-work-related injuries, you should likewise wait until a doctor clears you to return to work. If you go back to work too soon, there’s a chance that you’ll suffer an additional injury on the job.

Assuming a physician does release you to return to work, it’s always possible that you might not feel physically or emotionally ready. In this situation, you can request a second opinion before taking any action that could jeopardize your health or the outcome of a pending injury claim.

When It’s Time to Get Help with Your Injury

Knowing what to do and where to turn after an injury can be confusing when you are faced with physical and financial challenges. At the Dodd Law Firm, we advocate for the rights of accident injury victims throughout Connecticut.

Contact our office today at 203-272-1883 or message us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Connecticut State Employee Awarded $400,000 in Retroactive Disability Pension Benefits

A former State of Connecticut employee was awarded a service-connected disability pension retroactive to August 2011.  The total retroactive award was $400,000.

Settlement of Covid-19 Workers’ Compensation Claim for $650,000

Claimant contracted Covid-19 during the course of his employment from a co-worker.  Unfortunately, the Claimant died from complications of Covid-19 after a month-long hospital stay.  A claim for survivor’s benefits for the Claimant’s wife were brought under C.G.S. 31-306.  The Workers’ Compensation insurance company agree to pay a settlement of $650,000 to settle the claim.  This settlement included a resolution of hospital bills incurred as a result of the Claimant’s hospitalization.

COVID-19 Executive Order

On Friday, July 24th, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont issued an Executive Order relating to Workers’ Compensation benefits for essential workers who contracted COVID-19.  According to this order, essential workers, as defined by a prior executive order, who contracted COVID-19 between March 10, 2020 and May 20, 2020 are presumed to have contracted the virus through work so long as they worked outside their home within two weeks of becoming sick.  This order puts the burden on insurance companies to show that a sick worker did not contract the virus through work activities.

This Executive Order should help essential workers who contracted COVID-19 to pursue Workers’ Compensation benefits without having to prove they were exposed to the virus through work.

Other workers who contracted the virus outside of the time period listed above may still bring a claim for benefits related to COVID-19 infection, but would need to prove the infection occurred from work activities.

If you or someone you know was required to continue working through the pandemic and contracted COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss bringing a Workers’ Compensation claim.

The full language of the Executive Order can be found here:  https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Office-of-the-Governor/Executive-Orders/Lamont-Executive-Orders/Executive-Order-No-7JJJ.pdf

Pre-Existing Injuries and Worker’s Compensation Claims

Under Connecticut law, you can still have a compensable Worker’s Compensation claim to a body part you have previously injured.

Connecticut law only requires a work incident or work activity to be “a substantial contributing factor” in order for it to be considered a viable Worker’s Compensation injury.  There is no requirement that the work incident or activity be the sole or only contributing factor.

An incident or work activity is considered to be a “substantial contributing factor” if it contributes to an injury in more than a minimal way.  This means that if a work incident or work activity increases or worsens a prior injury or condition by a discernable amount, it would a viable Worker’s Compensation injury.

Unsurprisingly, insurance companies frequently contest claims where the injured worker has a prior injury or condition.  For this reason, it is usually advisable to obtain a lawyer to help pursue a claim when prior injuries exist.

Snow Law 101

As the snow continues to pile up, let us take a moment to review some of the law relating to snow and ice removal in Connecticut. Are property owners responsible for premises liability lawsuits if someone is injured on their property?

Under Connecticut law, a landowner has an obligation to remove or otherwise treat dangerous accumulations of snow and ice from his or her property.  It is well established that the landowner’s obligation to remove snow or ice does not begin until after a reasonable period has passed following the end of the storm.  This means that a landowner may not be liable to an injured party who falls on snow or ice on their property during a storm.  This is commonly referred to as the “ongoing storm” doctrine.

In some instances, it may be possible for a person injured during the course of a storm to bring a claim against a landowner if it can be shown that the injury was caused by an older accumulation of snow or ice not related to the ongoing storm.

The obligation to perform snow removal is known as a “nondelegable duty”.  This means that the landowner cannot avoid responsibility an injury caused by snow and ice merely because they had assigned the responsibility of snow removal to another party.  In an instance where a snow removal company has failed to perform its responsibilities, an injured person likely has a claim against both the landowner and the snow removal company.

Responsibility for snow and ice removal on public sidewalks is governed by local ordinances.  For example, §99.56(C) of the Waterbury City Ordinances reads:

(C)   The owner or person in possession and control of land abutting a public sidewalk shall have a duty of exercising reasonable care to keep the sidewalk free of dangerous conditions caused by the accumulation of ice or snow thereon and shall be liable to any person who sustains injury to self or property where a breach of the duty is the proximate cause of the injury.

Most Connecticut cities and towns similarly place responsibility for snow removal of public sidewalks on the owner of the abutting property.  Your own town likely has a specific ordinance relating to snow removal on public sidewalks.  These ordinances usually provide details regarding how long an abutting property owner has to remove dangerous snow and ice conditions.  You are encouraged to review them on your city or town’s website.

Top Ten Legal Movies In The Last 50 Years

1.My Cousin Vinny (1992)
Joe Pesci plays a brash Brooklyn lawyer who only recently passed the bar exam on his 6th try. He is representing his cousin and friend who are arrested for murder after stopping at a convenience store in Alabama.

2. Marshall (2017)
Chadwick Bosman plays Thurgood Marshall, the first black justice on the Supreme Court. The movie follows Marshall who travels around the country defending blacks he believes were unjustly
charged with criminal offenses.

3. Philadelphia (1993)
Tom Hanks is a gay attorney who claims his law firm fired him because he contracted AIDS. Tom Hanks hires Denzel Washington to represent him.

4. The Verdict (1982)
Paul Newman is a washed-up lawyer who is referred a medical malpractice case and sees it as one last chance to save his career.

5. Erin Brockovich (2000)
Julia Roberts is a paralegal who investigates illegal dumping of highly toxic chemicals which turns into one of the largest class action lawsuits in U. S. History.

6. A Civil Action (1998)
A small plaintiff’s firm in Boston sues a major corporation whose tannery is responsible for the leukemia related deaths of eight children. John Travolta is the lead attorney for the plaintiffs and Robert Duvall is the attorney for the Defendant.

7. A Few Good Men (1992)
Tom Cruise is a high energy Navy JAG attorney of a military courtroom trial. Two marines are court martialed for the death of another marine as part of an unofficial punishment known as “code red.” The two marines testify they were following orders. The marine commander played by Jack Nicholson testified they acted on their own.

8. Michael Clayton(2007)
George Clooney plays a “fixer” attorney at a big law firm where he cleans up messes no one wants to touch and deals with ethically questionable clients.

9. The Paper Chase (1973)
The movie is about the demanding environment of Harvard Law School.

10. The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
Matthew McConaughey is hired to defend a wealthy real estate mogul who is accused of assaulting a prostitute.