It isn’t every day that you see firefighters filing lawsuits against big corporations. This happens only when they have no other choice. For instance, they will file lawsuits if a company intentionally supplies defective fire protection gear to make money, leading to injuries.
Currently, there are 1,041,200 firefighters in America. Among them, approximately 60,750 get physically injured in the line of duty. Similarly, 63% of firefighters who get exposed to harmful chemicals during firefighting operations will develop cancer. Now, these are all on-the-job injuries that firefighters have signed up for.
However, added exposure to chemicals from their firefighting gear or physical harm caused by defective products is unacceptable. That’s why they file lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of such products.
In this blog, we will discuss why firefighters file lawsuits, the different types, and more.
Reasons Why Firefighters File Lawsuits
Firefighters are usually known for their calm and composed temperaments. They are social and always ready to help people. Similarly, they are realistic and investigative by nature.
This investigative behavior can lead them to uncover the secrets some companies are hiding. For instance, a gear-manufacturing company can withhold information about harmful chemicals in their products. When firefighters use these gears, it leads to toxic exposure and health complications.
Hence, firefighters will sue the companies responsible once they link health complications with the equipment used. Other reasons why firefighters file lawsuits are as follows:
- Loss of employment and wages due to permanent physical injuries and disability caused by damaged equipment
- Medical expenses incurred due to prolonged toxic chemical exposure from their fire safety gear
- Misleading information provided by the manufacturing company about firefighting products
- Emotional distress, pain, and suffering caused by corporate negligence
In the event of a firefighter’s demise due to faulty equipment, the fire department or the family will file lawsuits on their behalf.
3 Types of Lawsuits Firefighters Can File
Firefighters can file the following lawsuits:
- Product liability lawsuit for physical injuries caused by faulty equipment resulting from inadequate warnings, instructions, or tests
- Wrongful death lawsuit for the untimely death of a firefighter because a manufacturer withheld information about fire safety gear
- Personal injury lawsuit for health complications due to toxic exposure from inadequately tested equipment
Before anything, they should consult a lawyer who specializes in fighting for justice for these heroes. Usually, lawsuits filed by firefighters soon turn into mass tort and class action lawsuits.
2 Lawsuit Examples That Are Breaking Headlines
Firefighters file lawsuits because they suffer from health complications and injuries after using fire safety equipment. Among those instances, the following ones have gained popularity over the months:
#1. Firefighting Foam Lawsuit
Firefighters found that aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) used for fuel fires had intense levels of per-and-poly fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). They developed cancer when exposed to this ‘forever chemical’ for prolonged periods. Reports suggest other side effects include infertility, increased cholesterol, changes in immunity, thyroid disorders, and more.
Unfortunately, the manufacturers did not warn firefighters about the PFAS content and side effects. According to TorHoerman Law, companies like 3M, DuPont, and Chemours are held responsible for this negligent behavior. As a result, they filed firefighter foam lawsuits against those manufacturers.
Even though the companies denied wrongdoing, over 5,000 firefighters have filed this lawsuit as of 2023. The firefighter foam cash settlements can be between USD 40,000 and USD 300,000 for each of these claims. Hence, the future of this lawsuit looks bright for the plaintiffs.
#2. Protective Gear Lawsuit
Recently, firefighters realized that the manufacturers infused carcinogens into their PPE kits and bunker gear. Unknowingly, they have been exposing themselves to PFAS every time they use protective equipment.
Therefore, the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of protective gear containing carcinogenic materials. These companies have been held responsible for corporate greed, conspiracy, and misconduct.
The IAFF is a union of 300,000 professional firefighters. All of them believe that 75% of firefighters died of cancer caused by harmful chemicals in the equipment they wore. They knew that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) conspired with the gear manufacturing industry to set harmful guidelines.
According to the claims, these standards allow PFAS chemicals in fire safety gear. It also argues that NFPA makes money from the unsafe testing standards used in this equipment.
The Way Forward: Can They Win?
Firefighters can win lawsuits if they have gathered enough evidence about the claims. Examples include medical records, employment proof, and witness testimony. Moreover, they have a higher chance of winning if the lawyers consolidate the lawsuits into a class action or mass tort case.
The lawyers they hire will help get compensation for the damages caused by corporate misconduct. Technically, these attorneys will work through the civil litigation process to prove liability. As a result, the lawsuit filed by firefighters will become strong and have a legitimate basis for a hearing.