Heart and Lung Law Statute
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Heart and Lung Law Statute

 

The Truth About Florida’s Heart & Lung Statute“,  What You Should Know by Martin L. Leibowitz

 

112.18 Firefighters and law enforcement or correctional officers; special provisions relative to disability.–

(1)(a) Any condition or impairment of health of any Florida state, municipal, county, port authority, special tax district, or fire control district firefighter or any law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer as defined in s. 943.10(1), (2), or (3) caused by tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension resulting in total or partial disability or death shall be presumed to have been accidental and to have been suffered in the line of duty unless the contrary be shown by competent evidence. However, any such firefighter or law enforcement officer must have successfully passed a physical examination upon entering into any such service as a firefighter or law enforcement officer, which examination failed to reveal any evidence of any such condition. Such presumption does not apply to benefits payable under or granted in a policy of life insurance or disability insurance, unless the insurer and insured have negotiated for such additional benefits to be included in the policy contract.

(b)1. 
For any workers’ compensation claim filed under this section and chapter 440 occurring on or after July 1, 2010, a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer as defined in s. 943.10(1), (2), or (3) suffering from tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension is presumed NOT to have incurred such disease in the line of duty as provided in this section if the law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer:

a. 
Departed in a material fashion from the prescribed course of treatment of his or her personal physician and the departure is demonstrated to have resulted in a significant aggravation of the tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension resulting in disability or increasing the disability or need for medical treatment; or

b. 
Was previously compensated pursuant to this section and chapter 440 for tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension and thereafter sustains and reports a new compensable workers’ compensation claim under this section and chapter 440, and the law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer has departed in a material fashion from the prescribed course of treatment of an authorized physician for the preexisting workers’ compensation claim and the departure is demonstrated to have resulted in a significant aggravation of the tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension resulting in disability or increasing the disability or need for medical treatment.

2. 
As used in this paragraph, “prescribed course of treatment” means prescribed medical courses of action and prescribed medicines for the specific disease or diseases claimed and as documented in the prescribing physician’s medical records.

3. 
If there is a dispute as to the appropriateness of the course of treatment prescribed by a physician under sub-subparagraph 1.a. or sub-subparagraph 1.b. or whether a departure in a material fashion from the prescribed course of treatment is demonstrated to have resulted in a significant aggravation of the tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension resulting in disability or increasing the disability or need for medical treatment, the law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer is entitled to seek an independent medical examination pursuant to s. 440.13(5).

4. 
A law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer is not entitled to the presumption provided in this section unless a claim for benefits is made prior to or within 180 days after leaving the employment of the employing agency.

(2) 
This section authorizes each governmental entity specified in subsection (1) to negotiate policy contracts for life and disability insurance to include accidental death benefits or double indemnity coverage which shall include the presumption that any condition or impairment of health of any firefighter, law enforcement officer, or correctional officer caused by tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension resulting in total or partial disability or death was accidental and suffered in the line of duty, unless the contrary be shown by competent evidence.

History.
s. 1, ch. 65-480; s. 1, ch. 73-125; s. 32, ch. 77-104; s. 692, ch. 95-147; s. 21, ch. 99-392; s. 3, ch. 2002-236; s. 2, ch. 2010-175.

112.181 Firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, law enforcement officers, correctional officers; special provisions relative to certain communicable diseases.

(1) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:

(a) “Body fluids” means blood and body fluids containing visible blood and other body fluids to which universal precautions for prevention of occupational transmission of blood-borne pathogens, as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, apply. For purposes of potential transmission of meningococcal meningitis or tuberculosis, the term “body fluids” includes respiratory, salivary, and sinus fluids, including droplets, sputum, and saliva, mucous, and other fluids through which infectious airborne organisms can be transmitted between persons.

(b) “Emergency rescue or public safety worker” means any person employed full time by the state or any political subdivision of the state as a firefighter, paramedic, emergency medical technician, law enforcement officer, or correctional officer who, in the course of employment, runs a high risk of occupational exposure to hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, or tuberculosis and who is not employed elsewhere in a similar capacity. However, the term “emergency rescue or public safety worker” does not include any person employed by a public hospital licensed under chapter 395 or any person employed by a subsidiary thereof.

(c) “Hepatitis” means hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis non-A, hepatitis non-B, hepatitis C, or any other strain of hepatitis generally recognized by the medical community.

(d) “High risk of occupational exposure” means that risk that is incurred because a person subject to the provisions of this section, in performing the basic duties associated with his or her employment:

1. Provides emergency medical treatment in a non-health-care setting where there is a potential for transfer of body fluids between persons;

2. At the site of an accident, fire, or other rescue or public safety operation, or in an emergency rescue or public safety vehicle, handles body fluids in or out of containers or works with or otherwise handles needles or other sharp instruments exposed to body fluids;

3. Engages in the pursuit, apprehension, and arrest of law violators or suspected law violators and, in performing such duties, may be exposed to body fluids; or

4. Is responsible for the custody, and physical restraint when necessary, of prisoners or inmates within a prison, jail, or other criminal detention facility, while on work detail outside the facility, or while being transported and, in performing such duties, may be exposed to body fluids.

(e) “Occupational exposure,” in the case of hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, or tuberculosis, means an exposure that occurs during the performance of job duties that may place a worker at risk of infection.

(2) PRESUMPTION; ELIGIBILITY CONDITIONS.—Any emergency rescue or public safety worker who suffers a condition or impairment of health that is caused by hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, or tuberculosis, that requires medical treatment, and that results in total or partial disability or death shall be presumed to have a disability suffered in the line of duty, unless the contrary is shown by competent evidence; however, in order to be entitled to the presumption, the emergency rescue or public safety worker must, by written affidavit as provided in s. 92.50, verify by written declaration that, to the best of his or her knowledge and belief:

(a) In the case of a medical condition caused by or derived from hepatitis, he or she has not:

1. Been exposed, through transfer of bodily fluids, to any person known to have sickness or medical conditions derived from hepatitis, outside the scope of his or her employment;

2. Had a transfusion of blood or blood components, other than a transfusion arising out of an accident or injury happening in connection with his or her present employment, or received any blood products for the treatment of a coagulation disorder since last undergoing medical tests for hepatitis, which tests failed to indicate the presence of hepatitis;

3. Engaged in unsafe sexual practices or other high-risk behavior, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Surgeon General of the United States, or had sexual relations with a person known to him or her to have engaged in such unsafe sexual practices or other high-risk behavior; or

4. Used intravenous drugs not prescribed by a physician.

(b) In the case of meningococcal meningitis, in the 10 days immediately preceding diagnosis he or she was not exposed, outside the scope of his or her employment, to any person known to have meningococcal meningitis or known to be an asymptomatic carrier of the disease.

(c) In the case of tuberculosis, in the period of time since the worker’s last negative tuberculosis skin test, he or she has not been exposed, outside the scope of his or her employment, to any person known by him or her to have tuberculosis.

(3) IMMUNIZATION.—Whenever any standard, medically recognized vaccine or other form of immunization or prophylaxis exists for the prevention of a communicable disease for which a presumption is granted under this section, if medically indicated in the given circumstances pursuant to immunization policies established by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Public Health Service, an emergency rescue or public safety worker may be required by his or her employer to undergo the immunization or prophylaxis unless the worker’s physician determines in writing that the immunization or other prophylaxis would pose a significant risk to the worker’s health. Absent such written declaration, failure or refusal by an emergency rescue or public safety worker to undergo such immunization or prophylaxis disqualifies the worker from the benefits of the presumption.

(4) LIFE AND DISABILITY INSURANCE COVERAGE.—This section does not apply to benefits payable under or granted in a noncompulsory policy of life insurance or disability insurance, unless the insurer and insured have negotiated for such additional benefits to be included in the policy contract. However, the state or any political subdivision of the state may negotiate a policy contract for life and disability insurance which includes accidental death benefits or double indemnity coverage for any condition or impairment of health suffered by an emergency rescue or public safety worker, which condition or impairment is caused by a disease described in this section and results in total or partial disability or death.

(5) RECORD OF EXPOSURES.—The employing agency shall maintain a record of any known or reasonably suspected exposure of an emergency rescue or public safety worker in its employ to the diseases described in this section and shall immediately notify the employee of such exposure. An emergency rescue or public safety worker shall file an incident or accident report with his or her employer of each instance of known or suspected occupational exposure to hepatitis infection, meningococcal meningitis, or tuberculosis.

(6) REQUIRED MEDICAL TESTS; PREEMPLOYMENT PHYSICAL.—In order to be entitled to the presumption provided by this section:

(a) An emergency rescue or public safety worker must, prior to diagnosis, have undergone standard, medically acceptable tests for evidence of the communicable disease for which the presumption is sought, or evidence of medical conditions derived therefrom, which tests fail to indicate the presence of infection. This paragraph does not apply in the case of meningococcal meningitis.

(b) On or after June 15, 1995, an emergency rescue or public safety worker may be required to undergo a preemployment physical examination that tests for and fails to reveal any evidence of hepatitis or tuberculosis.

(7) DISABILITY RETIREMENT.—This section does not change the basic requirements for determining eligibility for disability retirement benefits under the Florida Retirement System or any pension plan administered by this state or any political subdivision thereof, except to the extent of affecting the determination as to whether a member was disabled in the line of duty or was otherwise disabled.

History.—s. 2, ch. 95-285; s. 2, ch. 96-198; s. 25, ch. 97-95; s. 26, ch. 97-96.

112.1815 Firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and law enforcement officers; special provisions for employment-related accidents and injuries.

(1) The term “first responder” as used in this section means a law enforcement officer as defined in s. 943.10, a firefighter as defined in s. 633.102, or an emergency medical technician or paramedic as defined in s. 401.23 employed by state or local government. A volunteer law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical technician or paramedic engaged by the state or a local government is also considered a first responder of the state or local government for purposes of this section.

(2)(a) 
For the purpose of determining benefits under this section relating to employment-related accidents and injuries of first responders, the following shall apply:

1. 
An injury or disease caused by the exposure to a toxic substance is not an injury by accident arising out of employment unless there is a preponderance of the evidence establishing that exposure to the specific substance involved, at the levels to which the first responder was exposed, can cause the injury or disease sustained by the employee.

2. 
Any adverse result or complication caused by a smallpox vaccination of a first responder is deemed to be an injury by accident arising out of work performed in the course and scope of employment.

3. 
A mental or nervous injury involving a first responder and occurring as a manifestation of a compensable injury must be demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence. For a mental or nervous injury arising out of the employment unaccompanied by a physical injury involving a first responder, only medical benefits under s. 440.13 shall be payable for the mental or nervous injury. However, payment of indemnity as provided in s. 440.15 may not be made unless a physical injury arising out of injury as a first responder accompanies the mental or nervous injury. Benefits for a first responder are not subject to any limitation on temporary benefits under s. 440.093 or the 1-percent limitation on permanent psychiatric impairment benefits under s. 440.15(3)(c).

(b) 
In cases involving occupational disease, both causation and sufficient exposure to a specific harmful substance shown to be present in the workplace to support causation shall be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

(3) 
Permanent total supplemental benefits received by a first responder whose employer does not participate in the social security program shall not terminate after the first responder attains the age of 62.

(4) 
For the purposes of this section, the term “occupational disease” means only a disease that arises out of employment as a first responder and is due to causes and conditions that are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process, or employment and excludes all ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is exposed, unless the incidence of the disease is substantially higher in the particular trade, occupation, process, or employment than for the general public.

History.
s. 1, ch. 2007-87; s. 116, ch. 2013-183.

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