Hepatitis C Transmission in the Course of your Employment (Part 1 of 2)
In 2013, Burg Simpson attorney Nick Fogel was asked to contribute to the Winter Edition of The Colorado State Trooper magazine. This two-part blog series includes content originally published in that article.
Hepatitis C Transmission and the Dangers to First Responders
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease primarily caused by blood-to-blood contact. Hepatitis C infections can cause scarring of the liver, and over time, ultimately liver failure. When the infection is treated early with proper medications, the chance of being cured or experiencing remission is enhanced.
A liver transplant is the last alternative if medications do not retard or cure this disease.
In 2002, Marshall Fogel began to recognize the increase in the number of first responders (specifically peace officers, firefighters, and emergency services providers) who, during their official duties, were in contact with people and environments that exposed them to the hepatitis C infection. Fogel, with the assistance of the Colorado Legislative Office, and the support of the first responder and medical communities, wrote the hepatitis C bill. The bill received bipartisan support from the Colorado Senate and House, and it was signed in to law by Governor Bill Owens in 2003.
The hepatitis C law is titled under the Colorado Workers’ Compensation provisions. An on the job exposure to hepatitis C is required in order to receive medical and financial benefits associated with a diagnosis. The law also requires first responders to carefully follow the list of timeline requirements that are necessary to receive workers’ compensation coverage. The timeline requirements are listed in the hepatitis C statute.
If a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency services provider follows the timeline requirements, then the law will allow a presumption that the exposure or contraction of hepatitis C was within the course and scope of employment, and the burden of proof shifts to the insurer to prove through evidence that the exposure or contraction of the disease did not occur on the job. Usually, the law requires the person making a claim to have the burden of proof by providing evidence that their claim is valid. In cases of exposure, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact circumstances of the exposure. The statute speaks to this problem by stating that an employee is covered under workers’ compensation if “the employee is determined to have hepatitis C within twenty-four months after the on-the-job exposure to the known or POSSIBLE source.”
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Next: Hepatitis C and your Rights and Obligations.
Nick Fogel is a shareholder and Chairman of the Workers’ Compensation department at Burg Simpson. In this capacity, Nick specializes in representing law enforcement in injury claims. In 2010, Nick was selected by Law Week Colorado as one of Colorado’s Up-and-Coming Lawyers, a distinction given to attorneys who are at most in their sixth year of practice and have already accomplished tremendous things professionally and in the community. Nick has also been selected by the National Trial Lawyers Association for inclusion in The Top 40 under 40 Association. Membership into The Top 40 under 40 Association is by invitation only and is extended exclusively to those individuals who exemplify superior qualifications, trial results, and leadership as a young trial lawyer. Additionally, Nick has been selected by the National Trial Lawyers Association as one of the top 100 trial lawyers in the state of Colorado. The selection is based on superior qualifications, leadership, reputation, influence, stature, and profile in the Trial Lawyer community. Since 2012, Nick has been listed as a Colorado Super Lawyer Rising Star, a distinction limited to only the top 2.5 percent of qualifying lawyers in the state.