Can a firefighter sue for pain and suffering from an on-duty injury?

by Terry

I am a firefighter and was injured in an assault that happened while attending a patient. The patient had suffered a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) in the past and became combative and kicked me, injuring my knee, which will require surgery and 4-6 months of recovery.

During my recovery time, I will be covered under workers' compensation benefits, but I was wondering, can I sue for pain and suffering since this isn't covered by workers' comp? The patient (approximately 25 years old) was living with his mother. I was wondering if the mother's homeowners insurance would cover the injury caused by her disabled son? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Can a firefighter sue for pain and suffering from an on-duty injury?":

Terry (Colorado):

Unfortunately, workers' compensation insurance does not cover pain and suffering. However, homeowner's insurance often covers accidents which occur away from home. For example, if homeowner’s dog bites someone in a neighborhood park, those injuries would likely be covered by a homeowner's policy.

You have a right to contact the patient's mother and ask if she carried homeowners insurance. If so, you can explain you were injured by her son, and want to file a homeowner's insurance injury claim. You are not required to tell her you are presently receiving workers' comp benefits.

At that point, the woman can agree to assist you with filing your injury claim, or not. If she does agree, obtain the insurance contact information and contact the insurance company to file a claim.

What you should know is your workers' comp insurance company likely has a right to subrogate. This means if you receive additional monies from a third party (ex. homeowners insurance), then your workers' comp company has a right to be reimbursed for the monies they already paid to you. This is to prevent "double-dipping," or recovering compensation twice for the same injury.

Inasmuch as workers' compensation doesn't pay for pain and suffering, you will be able to keep that amount of the homeowners settlement or court award that represents your pain and suffering.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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