Workers’ Compensation for Law Enforcement Officers
Being a police officer is no easy task. Every day you get up and go to work, you’re potentially risking your life to keep the public safe. Even if situations don’t seem dangerous at the time – like patrolling a peaceful protest – they can quickly turn into a life-threatening altercation.
So what happens if you’re injured while on duty?
Many police officers will brush off injuries and not report them, which can result in more serious health issues later on. The truth is that law enforcement officers are entitled to file for workers’ compensation just like any other employee.
By law, employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage to their employees. For a standard workers’ compensation claim in Colorado, you have to report your injuries to your employer (in writing) within four working days. Your employer then has 10 days to report your injuries to their insurance provider.
Under the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA), you should be eligible to receive full coverage for all medical treatment needed as a result of your injury. You’ll need to choose an approved physician from a list provided by your employer or their insurance carrier in order to ensure coverage. Workers’ compensation not only covers treatment, but also any medication, hospital stays, and even funeral expenses in the event of an on-the-job fatality.
Depending on the injury and days out of work, you may also be eligible for wage loss benefits, also known as “temporary disability benefits.” In Colorado, you may be eligible for wage loss benefits if you miss more than three days of work or three shifts. Temporary disability benefits are, at a minimum, two third of your average weekly wage. Employers have to pay temporary disability benefits at least bi-weekly. Some choose to pay them weekly. Figuring out when you’re eligible for what can be confusing, so we encouraged you to seek advice from an experienced Colorado workers’ compensation lawyer.
Provisions for Law Enforcement
In addition to the standard workers’ compensation benefits, there are some instances where police officers or firefighters might get extra compensation.
One example is if a person is injured while on duty as a volunteer firefighter or a member of a posse (a group temporarily acting as law enforcement to help keep peace or search for a missing person), they would get paid at the maximum wage loss rate allowable under Colorado law.
Another example is if an employer has a wage continuation plan. Colorado attorney R. Mack Babcock explains:
If an employer has a wage continuation plan, the employee continues to get their full pay instead of the typical two-thirds. A lot of police departments and fire departments have wage continuation plans, but not all.
As a member of law enforcement, you’re exposed to unique and potentially dangerous situations every day. Even though it may become “normal” to you, getting hurt on the job shouldn’t be taken lightly. Possible dangers and high stress are part of being a police officer, but any injuries sustained as a result should be covered under workers’ compensation benefits.
If you have any questions regarding workers’ compensation or haven’t received sufficient compensation for your injuries, feel free to contact the Babcock Law Firm. We are one of the top workers’ compensation law firms in Colorado, so do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your case at no cost.