On Monday, June 17, 2019, the Board of Supervisors in Greensville County, Virginia approved a measure that will officially recognize volunteer firefighters as employees that will receive benefits under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. This means that any volunteer firefighter injured while performing his duties as such will be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits if he is left unable to perform in his primary employment role.
Few would argue against the fact that it requires a special kind of person to volunteer as a firefighter. They give up their own time and risk their own wellbeing—and indeed their lives—for no other reason than to help their community and the people around them. Most even use the fire department as a way to get involved in other community projects and contribute even more. The fact that these brave men and women do all of this without ever asking for any kind of monetary compensation just makes them all more valuable to society and the communities they serve.
Up until now, many people never thought about the true sacrifice that some firefighters had been forced to make when they found themselves injured as a result of performing their volunteer duties. As volunteers, many firefighters were not seen as an employed entity, and therefore not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if their injuries left them unable to perform in their regular jobs.
A volunteer firefighter injured while in service of his community would have to rely on his own private insurance and funds to take care of him and his family should he not be able to work. This put some of the noblest and selfless men and women in our communities in very precarious circumstances, along with their families.
On June 17, the Greensville County Board of Supervisors decided to change that. Starting July 1, 2019, volunteer firefighters will be recognized as employees and entitled to the same benefits they would receive from workers’ compensation if they were injured at any other paying job. This is a well-deserved reward, but more, it is a huge step forward in both recognition and security for some of the best people our communities produce and depend on.
At Ben Glass Law and Injured Worker’s Law Firm, we applaud this change in the recognition and workers’ compensation rights of volunteer firefighters in Greenville County, Virginia. We feel that this is an undeniably important advancement in support of the men and women who give up so much as volunteer firefighters as well as the families that stand behind them.
If you or someone you know is a volunteer firefighter with questions about these changes in the workers’ compensation benefits, or any other area of workers’ comp claims and settlements, we encourage you to contact either of our firms by calling (703)584-7277 or (804) 755-7755 anytime. Consultations are free and we’d be happy to discuss your concerns and talk about how we can help.