Compensation experts welcome firefighter law change

Liz Davidson of Arnold Dallas McPherson lawyers has welcomed a flagged change to WorkCover laws likely to benefit firefighters who develop work-related cancers.

She is an accredited specialist in personal injury law and has worked in the area for more than 25 years, mainly in country Victoria.

Ms Davidson explained that “most of us would think that there is a pretty strong link between contracting certain cancers and exposure to hazardous fire, smoke and chemicals at work. But generally the law doesn’t see it that way.”

This means that “workers have to get complex medical opinions confirming the link which most of us take for granted. They often have to go through lengthy legal battles to get fair compensation. Up to now this has included our firefighters, both paid and volunteer,” she said.

A recent announcement by Premier Andrews confirms that this is about to change, with the introduction of a ‘presumptive right to compensation’ for certain types of cancers contracted by firefighters.

According to Ms Davidson, “what this means is that if you are diagnosed with certain types of cancer and you have worked under certain conditions exposing you to hazardous fire, smoke and chemicals, the law automatically accepts the connection and compensation is payable to you”.

“The devil”, she said, “as always, is in the detail. Lawyers from our firm will be keeping a close watch on the drafting of the new legislation to make sure that the Government delivers on its promise of quick and fair compensation for our firies, who do so much to look after our community, especially here in rural and regional Victoria.”

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