Police officers have extremely important jobs. They put their lives on the line every single day to keep us safe, catch criminals, and prevent crime. Due to the inherent dangers of their profession, police officers are at constant risk for serious injuries, illnesses, and even death.
Just like any other employee who suffers a job-related accident, police officers are eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits to help cover lost wages as well as medical bills and any permanent disability. If you work in law enforcement and sustain an injury on the job, it’s important to understand your legal rights and obligations under the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA).
Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions regarding the protections provided to California police officers in the event of a job-related injury or death.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY INJURY IS COVERED BY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION?
If you are a police officer and your injury arose out of the course of your employment, it’s very likely it will be covered by workers’ compensation. Police officers and other public safety employees are actually entitled to significant additional compensation for a job-related injury than a civilian would be. If you have any doubts, however, a workers’ compensation attorney can review your case and advise you of your rights.
DO I HAVE TO PROVE THAT MY INJURY IS JOB-RELATED?
Police officers are confronted with many risks on the job, including physical assault, car accidents, overexertion, stress, and exposure to dangerous toxins and chemicals. Because of this, police officers are entitled to certain presumptions that ease their burden of proof for showing that an injury or illness occurred as a result of their job duties. In fact, the burden of proof shifts to the employer to prove the contrary.
ARE PSYCHIATRIC AND STRESS-RELATED ILLNESSES COVERED?
In California, psychiatric and stress-related illnesses are covered under workers’ compensation. If you develop post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing a tragic event, or if you suffer a mental breakdown or heart attack due to excessive stress, you may be eligible to file for workers’ compensation to cover your medical payments and any income lost while you’re off your feet.
WHAT BENEFITS ARE PROVIDED TO MY LOVED ONES IN THE EVENT OF MY DEATH?
While nothing can ease the pain of losing a loved one, California law does ensure that surviving dependents have their financial needs met. Benefits are available to a police officer’s spouse, children, and/or other eligible dependents if he or she is killed in the line of duty. These include burial expenses up to $5,000, as well as death benefits. The amount of death benefits paid is based on the deceased police officer’s number of eligible dependents: $250,000 for one dependent, $290,000 for two dependents, and $320,000 for three or more dependents.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’VE BEEN INJURED IN THE LINE OF DUTY?
Police officers are often hesitant to report their injuries out of loyalty to their agencies or because they accept that certain injuries are simply part of the job. Do not make this mistake. If you’ve been injured in the line of duty, report it to your supervisor immediately. Then, get in touch with an experienced attorney who can preserve your rights under workers’ compensation law. Your health, career, and future may depend on it.
OUR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ATTORNEYS CAN HELP IN SAN DIEGO
Workers’ compensation law protects the rights of police officers who put their lives on the line to keep us safe. If you have been injured in the line of duty or if you have suffered significant emotional distress as a result of your job, you may be entitled to benefits that will cover the cost of your treatment and replace lost income while you’re unable to work.
Due to the complicated nature of workers’ compensation law, you don’t want to trust just anyone to represent you. At The Law Office of Matthew Russell, our attorneys only specialize in workers’ compensation and will fight tooth and nail to grant you the maximum benefits you deserve. Give us a call at (619) 544-1506 to schedule your free case evaluation today.