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Kobal Law

Freak Workplace Injury Hospitalizes Firefighter


A North Collier Fire Rescue District was rushed into surgery after she was struck by a fire hydrant while working to control a house fire.

According to officials, NCF Firefighter Susana Webb was severely injured while laying out the fire hose to attach it to the fire hydrant.

The fire district spokesperson said the fire truck was moving down the street, the dry hose caught on the back of the truck and pulled the hose tight around the hydrant. The force uprooted the hydrant, which struck Webb. A medical helicopter took her to Gulf Coast Medical Center.

NCF said she spent several hours in surgery on Monday afternoon. She is now in recovery and surrounded by her family. NCF Chief Eloy Ricardo visited Webb late Monday evening and said she is in good spirits and knows she has a long road to recovery but is ready to get to work so she can get back to serving the community.

Medical Expenses

Other than extended hospitalization, which costs upwards of $3,000 a day, transportation expenses are usually the largest injury-related medical bill. That’s especially true if emergency responders airlifted the victim to a hospital. A short Careflight helicopter ride costs at least $40,000.

The specialized nature of this transportation justifies this expense. A medevac helicopter is basically a flying hospital. It’s hard enough to keep patients stable in rolling ambulances. This task is almost impossible in a rolling, pitching, and jumping helicopter in flight.

Specialized treatment is always much more expensive than other kinds of treatment. That’s one reason burn victims have such staggering medical bills. Specialized doctors in specialized facilities must treat these victims. Additionally, the average burn-related hospital stay is much longer than the average injury-related hospital stay.

Insurance company adjusters frequently ignore these needs and refuse to pay for specialized transportation or treatment. Instead, they insist the victim could’ve received the same level of care in a surface ambulance or a neighborhood hospital.

Usually, a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer partners with an independent medical professional to prove these extra expenses were reasonably necessary.

Medical treatment isn’t winding down when job injury victims leave hospitals. In most cases, it’s just ramping up. Generally, victims require months of extensive physical therapy to regain lost function. Even then, some lost function, such as lost range of motion in a broken shoulder, is almost inevitable.

Lost Wages

Workers’ compensation medical bill payment benefit takes care of expenses most families cannot possibly afford to pay. The lost wage replacement benefit helps them keep going on a day-to-day basis until their primary breadwinner is cleared to return to work full time.

Most temporarily disabled victims receive two-thirds of their AWW (average weekly income) until a doctor gives them the all-clear sign. Permanently disabled victims usually receive payment based in part on their AWW and in part on the nature and extent of their disabilities.

Some victims are caught in gray areas. Their current conditions allow them to work, but not at their regular jobs or for full time hours. Others reach MMI (maximum medical improvement) in physical therapy before their wounds completely heal.

In partial temporary disability cases, employers can force victims to work a light duty and often menial assignment, like restroom or parking lot attendant. In most cases, if the victim refuses the light duty assignment, the employer can terminate the worker, who then loses job injury benefits.

When workers’ compensation recipients reach MMI, their doctors assign disability ratings. A Tampa workers’ compensation attorney should receive a written statement from the doctor denoting the disability rating. Also, designate what tasks these victims are physically capable of and whether they can return to their jobs at all (work restrictions).

This issue is often less black and white than it seems initially. If an injury limits physical limits or prohibits certain types of tasks but not others, it puts the person in a very challenging position. One example is a back injury that doesn’t allow a victim to stand for extended periods. If the work restriction limits standing to no more than twenty minutes at a time, they may be unable to perform essential job tasks.

Depending on the setting, their employer may put them in a different position that meets their work restrictions. However, some employers have no options available to do so. For example, a person working on an assembly line doesn’t have other possible tasks to perform while sitting down.

Attorneys advocate for victims to ensure that, in all possible cases, they return to their old jobs on a full-time basis. 

Call a Diligent Hillsborough County Attorney

Injury victims are entitled to important financial benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Tampa, contact Kobal Law. We routinely handle matters throughout the Tampa Bay area.


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