PA 08-61—sHB 5629

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING WORKERS' COMPENSATION COVERAGE FOR FIREFIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS

SUMMARY: This act establishes a rebuttable presumption under workers' compensation law for municipal firefighters, police, and constables hired after July 1, 1996 who suffer a cardiac emergency while on duty after July 1, 2009.

To be covered by the act, the cardiac emergency must result in lost work time due to total or partial incapacity or death. The presumption that the ailment is due to the occupation is rebuttable, meaning it is presumed to be job-related unless a preponderance of evidence shows it is not. Until the act takes effect, such an ailment is compensable, but it is the employee's burden to prove the ailment is job-related.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009

CARDIAC EMERGENCY

The act creates a presumption that a cardiac emergency that occurs while a paid municipal firefighter, police officer, or constable is in training for, or engaged in, fire duty at the site of an accident or fire or other public safety operation was suffered in the line of duty and is compensable under workers' compensation. It applies (1) to those hired after July 1, 1996, (2) only in cases where the cardiac emergency results in lost work time due to temporary or permanent total or partial disability or death, and (3) to cardiac emergencies that take place after July 1, 2009 (the act's effective date). The employee must be acting within the scope of his or her employment for the municipal employer at the time and have previously passed a physical that revealed no evidence of cardiac emergency.

The act defines cardiac emergency as cardiac arrest or myocardial infarction.

Under prior law, any firefighter or police officer hired after July 1, 1996 had to prove a cardiac emergency (or any other type of heart disease) was caused by his work and was not due to other causes. (By law, municipal police officers and firefighters hired before July 1, 1996 and out of work due to heart or hypertension-related illness are given benefits equivalent to workers' compensation benefits without having to demonstrate that the ailment is job-related. )

Under the act, the presumption can be overcome if a preponderance of the evidence shows that the cardiac emergency was not due to firefighting or police work.

CONSTABLES

The act defines a “constable” as any municipal law enforcement officer who is authorized to make arrests and has completed Police Officer Standards and Training Council certification, as defined in state law.

BACKGROUND

Volunteer Firefighters and Workers' Compensation

By law, volunteer firefighters and emergency rescue workers are treated as employees, for workers' compensation purposes, of the town where they volunteer. The law also provides them with a presumption under workers' compensation law that any hypertension or heart disease resulting in death or temporary or permanent total or partial disability is presumed to be suffered in the line of duty if the member is in training or engaged in volunteer fire duty or ambulance service (CGS 7-314a (a) & (d)).

OLR Tracking: JM: JR: JL: dw