Presumptive Disability Law in Vermont

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CODE PART:
Vermont Statutes
TITLE 21 Labor
CHAPTER 9. EMPLOYER'S LIABILITY AND WORKERS' COMPENSATION
Sec. 601 Definitions.
Vermont Legislative Website
DESCRIPTION:
  1. In the case of fire fighters, as defined in 20 V.S.A. Sec. 3151(3) and (4), disability or death from heart injury or heart disease that becomes symptomatic within 72 hours of service in the line of duty shall be presumed to be compensable.
  2. "Line of duty," as applied to fire fighters and rescue and ambulance workers means one or more of the following:
    1. Service in the worker's town or district, in answer to a call of the department, including going to and returning from a fire or emergency or participating in a fire or emergency drill, parade, test, or trial of any firefighting or emergency equipment.
    2. Similar service in another town or district to which the department has been called for firefighting or emergency purposes.
    3. Service under orders of any department officer in any other emergency to which the department is called in the town or district where the department is established.
    4. Activities authorized by the department for the purpose of raising funds for the department.
  3. "Line of duty" as applied to constables, police officers, or volunteer reserve police officers means either or both of the following:
    1. Service as a police officer in answer to a complaint lodged with the department, including going to, returning from, and investigating the complaint or disorder.
    2. Service under orders from the department or in any emergency for which the employee serves as constable, police officer, or volunteer reserve police officer.
  4. In the case of a fire fighter, as defined in 20 V.S.A. Sec. 3151(3) and (4), who suffers death or disability from a cancer listed in subdivision (iv) of this subdivision (E), the fire fighter shall be presumed to have suffered the cancer as a result of exposure to conditions in the line of duty, unless it is shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the cancer was caused by non-service-connected risk factors or non-service-connected exposure, provided:
    1. The fire fighter completed an initial and any subsequent cancer screening evaluations as recommended by the American Cancer Society based on the age and sex of the fire fighter prior to becoming a fire fighter or within two years of the effective date of this act, and the evaluation indicated no evidence of cancer.
    2. The fire fighter was engaged in firefighting duties or other hazardous activities over a period of at least five years in Vermont prior to the diagnosis.
    3. The presumption shall not apply to any fire fighter who has used tobacco products at any time within ten years of the date of diagnosis.
    4. The disabling cancer shall be limited to leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma, and cancers originating in the bladder, brain, colon, gastrointestinal tract, kidney, liver, pancreas, skin, or testicles.
    5. The fire fighter is under the age of 65.
  5. A fire fighter who is diagnosed with cancer within ten years of the last active date of employment as a fire fighter shall be eligible for benefits under this subdivision. The date of injury shall be the date of the last injurious exposure as a fire fighter.
  6. It is recommended that fire departments maintain incident report records for at least ten years.
    1. In the case of firefighters and members of a rescue or an ambulance squad, disability or death resulting from lung disease or an infectious disease either one of which is caused by aerosolized airborne infectious agents or blood-borne pathogens and acquired after a documented occupational exposure in the line of duty to a person with an illness shall be presumed to be compensable, unless it is shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the disease was caused by nonservice-connected risk factors or nonservice-connected exposure. The presumption of compensability shall not be available if the employer offers a vaccine that is refused by the firefighter or rescue or ambulance worker and the firefighter or rescue or ambulance worker is subsequently diagnosed with the particular disease for which the vaccine was offered, unless the firefighter or rescue or ambulance worker's physician deems that the vaccine is not medically safe or appropriate for the firefighter or rescue or ambulance worker.
    2. In the case of lung disease the presumption of compensability shall not apply to any firefighter or rescue or ambulance worker who has used tobacco products at any time within 10 years of the date of diagnosis.
    3. A firefighter or rescue or ambulance worker shall have been diagnosed within 10 years of the last active date of employment as a firefighter or rescue or ambulance worker.
    4. As used in this subdivision, "exposure" means contact with infectious agents such as bodily fluids through inhalation, percutaneous inoculation, or contact with an open wound, nonintact skin, or mucous membranes, or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of an employee's duties. Exposure includes:
      1. Percutaneous exposure. Percutaneous exposure occurs when blood or bodily fluid is introduced into the body through the skin, including by needle sticks, cuts, abrasions, broken cuticles, and chapped skin.
      2. Mucocutaneous exposure. Mucocutaneous exposure occurs when blood or bodily fluids come in contact with a mucous membrane.
      3. Airborne exposure. Airborne exposure means contact with an individual with a suspected or confirmed case of airborne disease or contact with air containing aerosolized airborne disease.


(11) “Personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment” includes an injury caused by the willful act of a third person directed against an employee because of that employment.

(I)(i) In the case of police officers, rescue or ambulance workers, or firefighters, post-traumatic stress disorder that is diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist shall be presumed to have been incurred during service in the line of duty and shall be compensable, unless it is shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the post- traumatic stress disorder was caused by nonservice-connected risk factors or nonservice- connected exposure.

(ii) A police officer, rescue or ambulance worker, or firefighter who is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder within three years of the last active date of employment as a police officer, rescue or ambulance worker, or firefighter shall be eligible for benefits under this subdivision (11).

(23) “Occupational disease” means a disease that results from causes and conditions characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process, or employment, and to which an employee is not ordinarily subjected or exposed to outside or away from the employment and arises out of and in the course of the employment. The term “occupational disease” shall include a mental condition as defined in 8 V.S.A. §4089b, whether sudden or gradual in onset, that requires medical or psychiatric services or that results in physical or psychiatric disability or death.