CHAPTER 484

FORMERLY

HOUSE BILL NO. 719

AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENTS NO. 2 AND 3

AND SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 4

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 18, DELAWARE CODE, TO PROVIDE FOR PAYMENTS FROM THE STATE SELF-INSURANCE FUND TO VOLUNTEER FIREMEN PERMANENTLY DISABLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. Amend Title 18, Delaware Code, by adding thereto a new Chapter 67 to read as follows:

"CHAPTER 67. LINE-OF-DUTY DISABILITY BENEFITS

TO VOLUNTEER FIREMEN

§6701. Definitions

(1) 'Covered firemen' shall mean an enrolled firemen in good standing, according to the rules of the Delaware volunteer fire company of which he is a member.

(2) 'Line of Duty' shall mean while traveling to, performing his assigned duties or returning from, a fire alarm, rescue operation or any other emergency volunteer fire company action; provided, however, that the phrases 'traveling to' and 'returning from' shall include the time encompassed by the fireman's entrance into his personal vehicle or company emergency vehicle in response to the alarm or emergency call until his first die-embarkation from his personal vehicle at his home, place of employment or other location.

(3) 'Permanent Disability' shall mean a permanent physical condition arising out of and in the course of actions in the line of duty, but shall not include permanent disability from an injury or disease, which, although aggravated in the line of duty, were not originally sustained in the line of duty; provided, however, that said permanent disability must be sufficient to disable the covered fireman so that he is unable to do the work normally required for the job or employment which he held at the time he was disabled."

§6702. Payment of benefits

Upon certification by the Commissioner that a claim under this chapter has been approved, the State Treasurer shall pay to a covered fireman who has been permanently disabled in the line of duty, a benefit of $500 per month, plus $50 per month for each child under the age of 18 years, for so long as such disability shall remain.

96703. Physical examinations

No fireman shall be permitted to receive disability benefits under the provisions of this chapter until he has been examined by a duly qualified physician or surgeon, selected by the fireman or, if not selected by the fireman, selected by the Commissioner for that purpose. If the fireman is found to permanently disabled, he shall be entitled to present his claim to the Commissioner. The examining doctor shall prepare a written report which shall be submitted to the Commissioner and shall be part of the records. Any firemen receiving benefits under the provisions of this chapter shall be examined periodically by a duly qualified physician or surgeon as required by the Commissioner to determine if such disability has ceased to exist.

§6704. Adjudication of claims

(a) The Commissioner shall receive claims for disability benefits under this chapter. He shall determine the validity of all such claims and determine whether a disability resulting in any such claim was in the line of duty under the terms set forth in Section 6701 of this chapter. In making such determinations, he may seek the guidance of the Attorney General. The Commissioner shall hold a hearing on every claim, at which hearing the claimant may be represented by counsel. The Commissioner shall, at the hearing, receive evidence, make findings and render a decision. He shall have the power to subpoena witnesses and records and administer oaths and shall keep a written or taped record of all testimony given before him. He shall state, in writing, his findings and the reasons for his decision.

(b) The Commissioner shall issue regulations governing the submission, processing, and adjudication of claims, including regulations governing hearings before him.

(c) The Commissioner shall make available the necessary forms for processing claims.

(d) The Commissioner shall insure that on the claim forms supplied to the applicant are spaces wherein the President and Company Chief, or any other two officers designated by the fire company, may, by oath or affirmation, depose the following:

'I, , do hereby swear/affirm that

(name of officer)

a member in good standing of the

name of applicant

…………….. Volunteer Fire Company, did sustain the injury or disease listed herein as the cause of his permanent disability claim, in the circumstances and on the date herein set forth.

Signed

………………………...

(Title of Officer)

Notwithstanding the provisions of §6704, the Insurance Commissioner, may, at his discretion, consider the submission of the above oath or affirmation as meeting the requirements for a hearing on every claim.

§6705. Appeals

Any aggrieved claimant may appeal a decision of the Commissioner to Superior Court, which shall have final jurisdiction under this chapter. Such appeal shall be an appeal on the record. Superior Court may, by rule, set forth the procedure for processing appeals under this chapter.

§6706. Payments to be diminished by amounts of other benefits

If any claimant under this chapter is entitled to receive, as a result of the same disability in the line of duty which gave rise to his claim under this chapter, any payment of State, federal, county or municipal funds or insurance proceeds from a policy paid entirely by the State, federal, county or municipal government in the form of a disability benefit, other than that provided for under this chapter, his payment pursuant to this chapter shall be reduced by the amount of such other payment or payments to which he is entitled.

§6707. Source of payments under this chapter

Payments made pursuant to this chapter shall be made from the State self-insurance fund, as provided in Chapter 65 of this title. The General Assembly shall, when necessary, from time to time, provide for the adequate funding to the said self-insurance fund to cover claims under this chapter.

§6708. Exemption from tax and execution

Payments made for permanent disability under the provisions of this chapter are hereby exempted from any State, county or municipal tax and shall not be subject to execution or attachment or to any legal process whatsoever and shall be unassignable."

Section 2. If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the Act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to that end the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable.

Approved July 19, 1974.