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WORKERS COMP FOR POLICE OFFICERS- MARYLAND LAW

Workers Comp for police officers

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Workers Comp For Police Officers

Maryland workers compensation attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh Esq.

Mr. Rodabaugh represents injured police officers and public safety employees before the workers compensation commission handling each case with the intention of obtaining each and every benefit available to them by law.  Workers Comp police officer benefits range from increased permanency awards to presumptions of occupational illness.  Workers comp for police officers and public safety employees can be a bit more complicated than the ordinary workers comp case because of language included in the annotated code which discusses retirement off-sets and the burden of proof relating to presumptions provided to injured officers.

 

For a free consultation call Maryland workers compensation attorney and personal injury attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh now  Call UsClick to email  or just fill out the form at the bottom of the page and Mr. Rodabaugh will contact you!

 

 

Workers Comp for Police Officers include additional benefits

Maryland police officers are provided numerous benefits in addition to those provided for the ordinary employee.  Maryland workers compensation laws provide increased benefits, and rightfully so, under the public safety statutes which include increased permanency payments, presumptions of law, coverage for secondary employment jobs, and coverage while using patrol vehicles while off duty.

Workers Comp for police officers include Higher Permanency rates and Settlement Value

2nd Tier Permanency Rates

Police are provided 2nd tier permanency rates in cases that would ordinarily be paid out at first tier rates because they are defined as public safety employees under Md. Labor & Employment § 9-628.  Second tier rates are ordinarily paid on awards by the Workers Compensation Commission of greater than or equal to 75 weeks.  First tier awards are paid out for any award under 75 weeks.  Workers comp for police officers include second tier permanency rates by default.  In the event a Maryland police officer receives an award by the Commission of less than 75 weeks the police officer will still be paid at the second tier rate.  The tier rates vary depending on the year of the injury but are determined by the employees wages as well as the state average weekly wage.

First tier payments are to be paid at 1/3 of the employees average weekly wage.  The 1/3 must not exceed the rate set by statutory code. Some Examples:

2010-  $142.00
2011-   157
2012-  162
2013-  166
2014-  167
2015-  168
2016-  172

Second tier payments are to be paid at 2/3 of the employees average weekly wage but must not exceed 1/3 of the state average weekly wage.  Some Examples:

2010-  $307.00
2011-   314
2012-  322
2013-  330
2014-  333
2015-  335
2016-  343

Police Officers, and all Maryland public safety employees, can usually look past the first tier rates as vary rarely will these amount apply to their workers compensation awards.  The only instances in which workers comp for police officers will result in first tier rates is if their average weekly wage was low enough to indicate first tier money. 

An example comparing a public safety employee award to non public safety award can provide aid in understanding how the tier system would apply in a real life scenario.

Injured worker A was hurt in Baltimore while working as a landscaper. He was earning $1,000 a week.  In 2016 he twisted his knee in a hole and received 6 weeks of physical therapy.  He was seen by the insurance company doctor and provided a rating of 5% to his leg.  He was seen by the Claimants doctor and received a 20% to the leg.

Injured worker B was hurt while working as a Baltimore City police officer.  He was earning $1,000 a week.  In 2016 he twisted his knee chasing a suspect in the streets of Baltimore.  He also received 6 weeks of physical therapy, was rated and received a 5% by the insurance doctor and a 20% by the Claimants doctor.

Both A and B attended a workers compensation hearing and were both awarded a 15% which calculates to be 45 weeks of payment.

A will be paid for 45 weeks at $172 equaling an award of  $7,740
B will also be paid for 45 weeks but at second tier rate for 2016 of $343.  Equaling $15,435.

 

See also
Know your rights
Evaluating Settlement
Common terms and definitions

 

Workers Comp for Police Officers include increased settlement value

In some cases Police Officers may enjoy a higher settlement amount than the ordinary injured Maryland worker.  This is directly related to the public safety tier system.  If a police officer is expected to receive an award of less than 75 weeks then he will be able to use the public safety permanency rates to negotiate a higher settlement than a non public safety employee would receive. 

Workers comp for police officers may not affect the value of a settlement in the event that the expected award would be 75 weeks or more.  At 75 weeks or more all injured employees receive second tier payment rates as long as their average weekly wage is high enough.

 

Workers Comp for Police Officers and the presumption of law

montgomster / Pixabay

In addition to the increased permanency awards Police Officers, as Maryland public safety employees, are provided presumptions of law regarding certain occupational diseases namely heart disease and hypertension.  The statutory language in §9-503 states a police officer is “presumed to be suffering from an occupational disease that was suffered in the line of duty and is compensable under this title if: (i.) the police officer…is suffering from heart disease or hypertension AND (ii.) the heart disease or hypertension results in partial or total disability.

WHAT THE PRESUMPTION MEANS:  In the ordinary workers compensation case, or general civil lawsuit, the party seeking benefits has the burden of production and persuasion.  Otherwise said, the party seeking something must prove their case with evidence and argument.  Workers Comp for police officers creates a legal presumption and the burden on the person seeking benefits is almost completely removed.  It is assumed that Police Officers who have developed heart disease or hypertension developed the disease because of their job.  With the presumption at play the Officer would have to prove they have hypertension or heart disease, that they were a police officer, and that they first related the heart disease or hypertension to their occupation within the applicable statute of limitations.

WHAT THE PRESUMPTION DOES NOT MEAN: Police Officers will not effortlessly be awarded workers compensation benefits if they develop hypertension or heart disease.  Even though there is a presumption, the Employer or Insurer have the right to rebut the presumption.  If a proper rebuttal is provided then the Officer should choose to put on further evidence of support of his case because at any given time the Commissioner (workers comp judge) may be persuaded to rule in favor of the insurance company.  It is important to note that workers comp for police officers is not ever a guarantee but probable.

COMMON REBUTTAL DEFENSES include the last injurious exposure, the statute of limitations, and causes unrelated to employment.

Last Injurious Exposure is a defense raised by an employer in an attempt to shift the liability for an occupational disease away from the employer and to another employer or source.  Under Maryland law benefits are to be paid by the employer for whom the injured worker was working at the time they were last exposed to the hazard.  Stress has been determined the hazard causing heart disease in police officers.  An example of last injurious exposure at play would be;  a retired Police Officer could file a claim within one year from their retirement.  If in that year they worked part time for another employer the liability of the heart disease may be shifted to the new employer.  If successfully argued the Police department would be excused from liability and the claim  against them lost.  The officer would still have the option to file a claim against the post retirement employer but a presumption may not be involved.

Statute Of Limitations is one of, if not the most difficult defense to overcome in workers compensation cases.  If the claim form for heart disease, hypertension, or any other occupational disease is not filed within 2 years from the date the Officer was disabled, and had knowledge he was disabled as a result of working as an Officer.  While the Statute of Limitations is difficult to overcome, there are numerous exceptions and waivers that may apply in any particular case.  As always it is best to consult an experienced Maryland workers compensation attorney when seeking workers comp for police officers.

Causes Unrelated to Employment are brought up in almost every workers compensation case.  Some examples include prior injuries, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, and age.  In heart disease and hypertension cases the unrelated causes may be brought up by the defense in an effort to blame the disease on a preexisting condition and prevent workers comp for police officers.  The goal of the defense is to focus on other causes of heart disease and hypertension such as smoking habits, drinking habits, obesity, diet, lack of exercise, or prior medical finding s of high cholesterol and blood pressure.

Workers Comp for police officers may be provided if off duty but driving their patrol vehicle

If an employer provides an automobile to an employee they are covered under Maryland workers comp laws if involved in an accident driving to work, coming home from work, or using the car for work purposes.

Police Officers enjoy this benefit but are also covered while driving their patrol car for what most would consider strictly personal use.  In Montgomery County vs. Wade, 345 Md. 1 (1996) the Court of Appeals, which is Maryland’s highest court, ruled that a County officer was entitled to workers compensation benefits when she was injured in an automobile accident while driving her patrol car to her mothers house. 

Pertinent factors in this case were:

  •     Montgomery County policy is to allow Officers to use the Personal Patrol Vehicle (PPV) for personal gain.
  •     Montgomery County policy was that Off duty officers using a PPV must carry a handgun, handcuffs, and department credentials, monitor the radio, respond to calls if no response would reflect unfavorably on the department.
  •     The County benefits from this program by at the very least providing a visual deterrent to criminal activity.
  •     The use of the PPV was indeed incidental to her roll as a Montgomery County police officer.
  •     At any given moment she may have had to act in her official police capacity.
  •     Dual purpose doctrine applies in this case because Officer Wade was furthering the departments business purpose while using the PPV on a personal errand.

While each and every workers compensation case is subject to a different fact pattern and different arguments Maryland police officers who operate their patrol car for personal use should be well aware of workers comp for police officers and what circumstances may arise to the use of these benefits.

Workers Comp for police officers when working secondary employment

The Court of Appeals ruling in the Montgomery County vs. Wade case provides solid support for the argument that when an officer works for a secondary employer, commonly referred to as moonlighting, the officer would be covered under the Departments workers compensation policy.  Of course there is often room for argument based on the particular facts of any given case, however I am of the opinion that more often than not the police officer would be covered under the departments Workers Comp policy.

Factual analysis in determining whether the departments comp policy would cover the Officer acting as a security guard should begin with whether or not the officer was in anyway furthering the departments purpose.  Was there a police presence by the officer working in security- was he in uniform, using patrol car, carrying weapon, mace, monitoring radio or acting as he typically would act while on duty?  Workers comp for police officers may apply.

Analysis should also consider whether he was permitted by the department to moonlight.  Did the Police Officer have to first obtain permission from the department, did he follow the proper protocols, and did he violate any rules? Also of substantial significance is whether or not the department encouraged police officers to work side jobs.  If the department encourages their officers to moonlight than the officers are likely entitled to workers comp for police officers because the department is benefiting from their side work.

 

For a free consultation call Maryland workers compensation attorney and personal injury attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh now  Call UsClick to email  or just fill out the form at the bottom of the page and Mr. Rodabaugh will contact you!

 

Mr. Rodabaugh is a valuable asset to his community.  His continuing dedication to the law and his clients is admirable.
Adam SPersonal Injury Attorney

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Summary
Workers Compensation Attorney
Service Type
Workers Compensation Attorney
Provider Name
Andrew M. Rodabaugh Esquire,
Maryland ,Maryalnd,Maryalnd-Maryland,
Telephone No.410-937-1659
Area
Maryland
Description
Workers comp for police officers can vary from the ordinary employee benefits because police officers are considered public safety under Maryland law. Public safety employees enjoy higher permanency rates and presumptions of law.