Workers’ Compensation for Law Enforcement
Being a police officer means that you’re risking your life to keep the public safe every day you go to work. Even the most peaceful-seeming situations can turn dangerous in the blink of an eye, keeping you on your toes every minute of your shift. But what happens when you get hurt during your patrol?
Many law enforcement officers will brush off minor injuries and continue working. After all, things like bumps, bruises and scrapes are just part of the job description. But some injuries are much more severe and can’t be brushed off so easily. What happens then?
Can Police Officers Get Workers’ Comp Benefits?
Most workers know they can file for workers’ comp benefits when injured. But police officers and other law enforcement personnel may not know if they’re eligible to receive these benefits. After all, you knew there were many health hazards when you signed up, including the risk of injury and disease.
However, police officers are entitled to file compensation claims when they’re hurt on the job. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, your employer must supply you with workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance provides financial coverage for incurred costs that results from an injury at work, which should include the following:
- Full coverage of all medical treatments necessary as a result of your injury (including continuing care like medications or physical therapy)
- Payments that are at least two-thirds of your weekly pay rate (for varying times)
- Additional benefits for police officers, as outlined in their contract
Additional benefits might include something called a wage continuation plan. If your contract includes this, you’ll receive your full wages while on leave following an accident or injury instead of only two-thirds. There may also be death benefits.
What Are Some Common Work-Related Accidents?
Due to the unique hazards of your career as a police officer, there are many accidents and injuries that might occur on your job. While it’s impossible to list all of them, a few common examples include:
- Car Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Animal Collisions
- Dog Bites
- Slip and Falls
- Aviation Accidents
- Wrongful Death
- Gunshot or Stabbing Wounds
- Injuries From Physical Altercations With Suspects
- Chemical Exposures
How Does The Claim Process Begin?
The exact claim process may vary from one state to another. In Colorado, nearly all employers are required to provide their employees with workers’ comp insurance, so verification of coverage isn’t needed.
You would begin the claims process by notifying your employer of your injury in writing within 4 days of occurrence whenever possible. If you fail to start the claim process within 4 days, there could be penalties. However, it’s important to note that those penalties don’t mean you can’t file, as the statute of limitations on these claims is 2 years.
If your injury is a true emergency, you should seek medical attention at the nearest facility. You’ll need to see an authorized workman’s comp provider if it isn’t a life-threatening injury. Your boss should be able to provide you with a list of approved medical providers. While receiving medical attention, it’s essential to report all injuries, symptoms, and ailments so you can receive full medical coverage.
If you’re unsure what your workers’ compensation rights are or feel your rights aren’t being upheld, it’s important to work with an attorney. An attorney will ensure you get the fair financial compensation and assistance you deserve for being injured in the line of duty.