Michigan Legislature passes firefighter cancer presumption but leaves out funding mechanism.
Governor Snyder recently signed Senate Bill 0211 creating a firefighter cancer presumption in Michigan. Any respiratory tract, bladder, skin, brain, kidney, blood, thyroid, testicular, prostate, or lymphatic cancer will be presumed to arise out of and in the course of employment. The burden is on the insurance carrier/employer to present evidence to the contrary.
Mlive.com reports that Governor Snyder has called the bill incomplete because it did not include a long-term funding mechanism. “This bill creates a system where an important benefit would be available first-come-first-serve, and only when funds are available.”
Other states have adopted similar laws that presume a connection between workplace carcinogens and firefighters with cancer. The insurance industry has generally opposed these measures. We think a lack of funding in Michigan shows this legislation was largely symbolic and for political reasons.
Burden of proof
Special interest groups have used enormous political pressure to “reform” workers’ compensation in Michigan. The burden of proof is so difficult that many people with occupational diseases don’t even qualify for benefits.
For example, cases involving the heart or cardiovascular system are subject to the significant manner standard. This involves a weighing of factors and is extremely difficult. People with degenerative disc disease who suffer temporary back pain must show a medically distinguishable condition to qualify for benefits. Proving that cancer is caused by occupational factors is nearly impossible in most cases.
Everyone agrees that firefighters should be compensated for occupational diseases. What about machine operators, factory workers, and others who are exposed to carcinogens or toxic chemicals? Instead of creating a firefighter cancer presumption, how about we just fix the workers’ compensation system for all Michigan employees.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by kennymatic.