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Workers Compensation Public Safety- Dept of Corrections Officers

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Correctional Officers soon to be considered public safety in Maryland!

THIS WEBPAGE IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY GOVERNMENT ENTITY AND IS THE OPINION OF WORKERS COMPENSATION ATTORNEY ANDREW M. RODABAUGH.  PROVIDED FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY.  NOT LEGAL ADVICE.  NO ATTORNEY REPRESENTATION IS CREATED HEREIN.

Updated 8/16/18- An interesting study was performed by Washington State University regarding the incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its frequency among Prison employees.  For our discussion and how this could affect workers compensation benefits for correctional officers and prison officers see Correctional Officers entitled to workers compensation benefits for PTSD.

 

The Maryland legislature has recently passed Senate Bill SB 576/17 which can be found here.  Should Governor Hogan sign the bill as expected it will be confirmed Maryland law effectively making changes to Labor and Employment § 9-628 & §9-629.  The law will take affect October 1, 2018 and apply to workers compensation claims filed by Maryland Correctional Officers that occurred on or after this date.

This bill has been long over due and takes a step in the right direction in providing correctional officers the benefits to which they deserve and have earned as public safety personnel.  Until now correctional officers have been treated, under Maryland workers compensation laws, the same as non public safety officers such as retail, restaurant, construction, or office personnel.  Public Safety officers have included Police, Firefighters, Paramedics, and some Sheriffs in select Maryland counties.

 

For a free consultation call workers compensation and personal injury attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh now at  Call Us, Click to email  or Fill out the Form below!

 

What does the new workers compensation Public Safety bill mean for Maryland Correctional Officers?  

Like other public safety employees, correctional officers will be entitled to a higher rate of pay, second tier rate, when they are awarded a permanent partial disability (PPD) in their workers compensation case.  Until the bill is signed into law  Correctional Officers are paid at the first tier rate for injuries that did not meet the second tier threshold.  First tier rates are 1/3 of the employees average weekly wage but is capped at 16.7% of the state average weekly wage for the year of injury; second tier rates are paid at 2/3 of the average weekly wage not to exceed 33.3% of the state average weekly wage.  Rates of payment:   

Year  Tier 1/Tier 2

2010  142/307
2011   157/314
2012  162/322
2013  166/330
2014  167/333
2015  168/335
2016 172/343
2017 176/351
2018 183/365

Ordinarily an injured worker must be awarded 75 weeks of payment in order to qualify for the higher tier payment.  When the new bill is signed into law correctional officers will no longer need to hit 75 weeks of permanent partial disability payments to enjoy the higher rate of payment. 

An example of the change in permanent partial disability for correctional officers when considered public safety personnel:

Correctional Officer Example 1:

Prior to October 1, 2018 bill being signed into law CO Smith injured his back, say June 2018.  His average weekly wage is $900.  He is later awarded 50 weeks of permanent partial disability pay.  1/3 of $900 is $300, however the payment is capped at 16.7% of the state average weekly wage (see above) so CO Smith would be paid at a first tier rate of $183 x 50 weeks= $9,150.  

Prior to October 1, 2018 bill being signed into law CO Smith injured his back, say June 2018.  His average weekly wage is $900.  He is later awarded 75 weeks of permanent partial disability pay.  2/3 of $900 is $600, however the payment is capped at 33.3% of the state average weekly wage (see above) so CO Smith would be paid at a first tier rate of $365 x 75 weeks= $27,375.

After  October 1, 2018 bill being signed into law CO Smith will be considered public safety when workers compensation permanency payments are awarded.  He injured his back, say November 2018.  His average weekly wage is $900.  He is later awarded 50 weeks of permanent partial disability pay.  He is now paid at the second tier PPD rate for the 50 weeks- $365 x 50= $18,250.   

After  October 1, 2018 bill being signed into law CO Smith will be considered public safety when workers compensation permanency payments are awarded.  He injured his back, say November 2018.  His average weekly wage is $900.  He is later awarded 75 weeks of permanent partial disability pay.  His second tier award will remain the same because he is over the 75 week threshold.  $365 x 75= $27,375.

Correctional Officer Example 2:

Prior to October 1, 2018 bill being signed into law CO Johnson twisted his knee when detaining an inmate.  He has an average weekly wage of $500.  He is later awarded 60 weeks of permanent partial disability pay.  1/3 of $500 is $166.5, however this is less than the first tier rate of $183 so the calculation will be $166.5 x 60= $9, 990

Prior to October 1, 2018 bill being signed into law CO Johnson twisted his knee when detaining an inmate.  He has an average weekly wage of $500. He is later awarded 75 weeks of permanent partial disability pay.  2/3 of $500 is $333, however this is less than the second tier rate of $365 so the calculation would be $333 x 75= $24,975

After  October 1, 2018 bill being signed into law CO Johnson will be considered public safety when workers compensation permanency payments are awarded.  He injured his knee, say November 2018.  His average weekly wage is $500.  He is later awarded 50 weeks of permanent partial disability pay.  He is now paid at the second tier PPD rate for the 50 weeks.  His second tier rate is 2/3 of $500 which is $333, still below the max second tier rate of $365.  $333 x 50= $16,650.  As a public safety officer Correctional Officer Johnson is paid $16,650 rather than the non public safety officer rate of $9,990.

After  October 1, 2018 CO Johnson’s second tier permanent partial disability calculations will stay the same as they were prior to the new statutory code indicating correctional officers are to be considered public safety personnel under Maryland’s workers compensation laws.  $333 x 75= $24,975

 

For further explanation the Maryland Legislature Fiscal and Policy Note can be found here.

 

Do correctional officers in Maryland now enjoy all workers compensation benefits other public safety employees enjoy?

The newly passed legislation adds correction officers to the public safety definition for purposes of the permanency statute found in §9-628 of the Labor and Employment article.  This provides CO’s access to extended workers compensation benefits allowing them to collect permanent partial disability at the second tier rate of compensation even when the award falls within the first tier.  While this legislation is certainly a step in the right direction it falls short of granting correctional officers all the extended benefits to which other public safety officers receive.  Under §9-503 of the Labor and Employment article public safety employees are also entitled to certain occupational disease presumptions.  For instance Police officers are granted a legal presumption for hypertension or heart disease.  Should a police officer develop one of these conditions while serving, or subsequent to serving as a police officer it is presumed that it was caused by employment.  The evidential burden is reduced and the workers compensation insurer must then rebut this presumption with production of evidence.

The newly passed legislation does not speak to Correctional Officers rights to any occupational disease presumptions now that they are classified as public safety officers in the permanency statute.

 

Read about Workers Compensation settlements here!

Learn more about extended benefits Police Officers enjoy as Public Safety employees!

 

For a free consultation call workers compensation and personal injury attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh now at  Call Us, Click to email  or Fill out the Form below!

 

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Correctional officers soon to enjoy second tier workers compensation permanency payments once Governor Hogan signs the legislation into law. Andrew M. Rodabaugh Esq. Workers Compensation Attorney