Law Enforcement And Fire Fighter Injuries
Law Enforcement and Fire Fighter Injury Benefits
It isn’t surprising that states and localities see the most injury claims from their public safety departments. Public safety workers, such as police and other law enforcement officers as well as fire fighters suffer injuries frequently because their jobs put them in positions of having to put their lives on the line to help others. As a result, they play crucial roles in saving victims from car accidents, fires, criminal activity, etc.
While providing assistance to those needing help, law enforcement officers and fire fighters are frequently at risk for many work injuries that can result in missed work, costly medical expenses, and a lower quality of life. In addition to injuries occurring on the job, law enforcement workers and fire fighters often suffer from diseases such as heart disease, lung disease, and cancer, which are also frequently work-related.
Because they are trained to help others, law enforcement workers and fire fighters often fail to take care of their own injuries and illnesses. This can lead to disastrous consequences as untreated injuries frequently become worse over time and sometimes leave permanent damage.
For Law Enforcement Officers
Injuries to the spine, head, extremities, and other body parts, will be covered as part of the law enforcement officer’s or fire fighter’s workers’ compensation coverage, if the following conditions are met:
- The injury occurred while the law enforcement officer or fire fighter was working at his or her job (arose out of)
- The injury occurred while the law enforcement officer or fire fighter was performing his job duties and the job increased the risk of the injury (in the course of)
- The condition can be classified as an occupational disease caused by the employment
Examples of occupational diseases which may qualify a law enforcement officer for workers’ compensation benefits include Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, hypertension, and heart disease, as well as others.
In Virginia, a rebuttable presumption is available for hypertension and/or heart disease. This means that if a law enforcement officer or fire fighter are diagnosed with hypertension or heart disease, those conditions will be considered to be related to their job unless the employer’s insurance company can prove that they are not related. This presumption is available to law enforcement officers in city, town, or county police departments; sheriffs and deputy sheriffs; city sergeants or deputy city sergeants of the City of Richmond; Virginia Marine Police Officers; conservation police officers with the Department of Wildlife Resources; Capitol Police officers; special agents of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority; officers of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; officers of the Norfolk Airport Authority; officers of the Virginia Port Authority; members of the State Police Officers’ Retirement System; and campus police officers.
For Fire Fighters
In Virginia, fire fighters have access to the same benefits listed above for law enforcement officers in addition to presumptions for respiratory diseases and cancers including pancreatic, prostate, rectal, throat, ovarian, breast, colon, brain, or testicular.
Virginia Retirement System Disability
If police offices or fire fighters are diagnosed with a work injury or occupational disease and their doctors tell them they can’t work any more, they may be eligible to apply for Virginia Retirement System Disability in addition to their workers compensation.
To win your Virginia Retirement System Disability case, you have to prove that you are no longer able to perform your job as a law enforcement officer or fire fighter. Successful claims can result in a future monthly benefits as well as reimbursement of any contributions you’ve made to the Virginia Retirement System.
Virginia Retirement System Retirement Benefits
If your injury or health condition was not caused by your job, you may be eligible for Virginia Retirement System retirement if you meet certain criteria such as age and required years of service.
Virginia’s Line of Duty Act
The families of both law enforcement officers and fire fighters are entitled Line of Duty Act death and health insurance benefits when an eligible officer or fire fighter dies in the line of duty.