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A firefighter diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor within four years of beginning his employment can be awarded workers compensation benefits, Nevada's Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The case of City of Las Vegas v. Kevin Evans follows from a workers comp claim Mr. Evans filed asserting that his cancer was caused by work-related exposure to toxic chemicals and smoke after the city hired him in 2004.
But the City of Las Vegas denied his claim, and Mr. Evans appealed to the Department of Administration Hearings Division, the ruling states. A hearing officer affirmed the claim's denial.
According to court records, an appeals officer later determined that Mr. Evans did not qualify for worker comp benefits under a Nevada statute stating that a firefighter's cancer manifests from employment and is presumed a compensable occupational disease if he or she worked as a firefighter for at least five years.
However, the appeals officer found that Mr. Evans could still seek workers comp benefits under another state statute delineating the general requirements for establishing a compensable occupational disease, court documents said.
The appeals officer ordered the City of Las Vegas to provide Mr. Evans benefits and the city appealed to a district court, which denied judicial review. The city then appealed to Nevada's Supreme Court.
The high court concluded that the district court did not err in denying judicial review and upholding the appeals officer's determination that a firefighter who fails to qualify for the presumption statute can still seek benefits under the other statute by proving that their cancer arose from their employment.
“We further conclude that the appeals officer did not abuse her discretion in determining that Evans' cancer was a compensable occupational disease,” the Supreme Court found.
Cancer was the largest cause of long-term disability claims last year for Unum Group, while maternity leave represented the largest percentage of short-term disability filings for the disability insurer in 2012.