(a) In this section, "first responder" means:
(1) an individual employed by a political subdivision of this state who is:
(A) a peace officer under Article 2.12, Code of Criminal Procedure;
(B) a person licensed under Chapter 773, Health and Safety Code, as an emergency care attendant, emergency medical technician, emergency medical technician-intermediate, emergency medical technician-paramedic, or licensed paramedic; or
(C) a firefighter subject to certification by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection under Chapter 419, Government Code, whose principal duties are firefighting and aircraft crash and rescue; or
(2) an individual covered under Section 504.012(a) who is providing volunteer services to a political subdivision of this state as:
(A) a volunteer firefighter, without regard to whether the volunteer firefighter is certified under Subchapter D, Chapter 419, Government Code; or
(B) an emergency medical services volunteer, as defined by Section 773.003, Health and Safety Code.
(b) This section applies only to a first responder who sustains a serious bodily injury, as defined by Section 1.07, Penal Code, in the course and scope of employment. For purposes of this section, an injury sustained in the course and scope of employment includes an injury sustained by a first responder providing services on a volunteer basis.
(c) The political subdivision, division, and insurance carrier shall accelerate and give priority to an injured first responder's claim for medical benefits, including all health care required to cure or relieve the effects naturally resulting from a compensable injury described by Subsection (b).
(d) The division shall accelerate, under rules adopted by the commissioner of workers' compensation, a contested case hearing requested by or an appeal submitted by a first responder regarding the denial of a claim for medical benefits, including all health care required to cure or relieve the effects naturally resulting from a compensable injury described by Subsection (b). The first responder shall provide notice to the division and independent review organization that the contested case or appeal involves a first responder.
(e) Except as otherwise provided by this section, a first responder is entitled to review of a medical dispute in the manner provided by Section 504.054.
Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1162 (H.B. 2605), § 36, eff. September 1, 2011.