Were you injured in the line of duty as a police officer?
Our Atlanta injury attorneys can help secure compensation for law enforcement.
“To protect and serve.”
This is the job of thousands of brave men and women across Georgia who are proud to be police officers, sheriffs, and highway patrol. Being a police officer or a member of the law enforcement community can be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, which is why this profession is truly a calling and not just a job.
It’s not uncommon for officers to ignore their injuries or symptoms so they may continue to protect and serve. While this selflessness and toughness is admirable, it’s not recommended by doctors or attorneys because both medical issues and legal cases can be compounded down the road if not handled quickly.
If you’ve been injured in the line of duty in Georgia, you may be wondering about your legal options and rights. Contact our Atlanta injury law firm today to talk about your case and find out if you have a workers’ comp claim.
Don’t take your employer at their word if they say your workplace injury isn’t covered.
Contact us today for your free consultation.
Police officer injury statistics & causes
According to The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, more officers were killed by gunfire than traffic crashes across the nation in 2018. On average, 115 police and sheriff’s patrol officers suffered fatal work injuries each year from 2003 to 2014. Another 30,990 nonfatal injuries involving days away from work were reported for police and sheriff’s patrol officers on average each year from 2009 to 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some of the most common types of injuries members of the law enforcement community face on a daily basis include:
- Vehicle crashes during pursuits, or collisions along roadside
- Physical and violent attacks
- Stress and mental health issues due to daily job stresses (PTSD)
- Exposure to toxic chemicals used to manufacture illegal drugs
- Foot/ankle injuries from suspect chases
- Back/neck/shoulder injuries from tackling suspects during arrests
- Back/knee injuries from weight of gun belts and bullet-resistant vests
- Broken bones
- Gunshot wounds
Also, certain occupational illnesses are especially common among police officers and other law enforcement members, such as hypertension and heart disease.
Compensation for police officers injured on duty
Workers’ compensation benefits for law enforcement officers cover the costs related to the work-based injury as well as coverage for lost wages and disability benefits (if the officer cannot return to work or is placed on restricted duty). This system allows the officer to recuperate without needing to pursue a long, drawn-out lawsuit against their department. Workers’ comp also allows for survivor benefits in case an officer is killed on-duty.
When it comes to occupational illnesses like heart disease, it typically falls on the employer (the local, state or federal government) and its insurance company to prove that the disease isn’t related to the officers’ employment. Officers could also be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for any injuries incurred during training or off-duty.
Difference between being “on-duty” vs “off-duty”
Police officers know there’s a difference between being “on-duty” and “off-duty” with regards to what’s required of them. Some officers chose to earn extra income by working as security while off-duty from their daily police jobs. Injuries sustained during these times can make filing workers’ comp claims tricky.
An injury falls under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act only if the injury “arises out of” and occurs “in the course of” employment, according to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-1(4).
Generally, injuries that occur “going to and coming from” work don’t qualify for workers’ compensation. However, one exception is injuries that occur while in “continuous employment” such as on call and travelling employees. Under this doctrine, an injured off-duty officer may still qualify for compensation, but it’s difficult to say for certain since the analysis of eligibility is specific to each case and the facts surrounding it.
That’s why hiring a qualified attorney to help guide your case is essential. Injuries sustained while off-duty are subject to a very deep analysis that is very specific. This can be explained by the fact that off-duty officers are more often than not on call all the time.
Third-party lawsuits for law enforcement
While workers’ compensation claims specifically prevent officers from suing their department for work-related injuries, there are times when a third-party lawsuit can be applicable. For instance, if a third-party is responsible for the officer’s injuries, they could be found liable for compensation.
An example of this type of lawsuit could be if an officer is driving their patrol car and another driver causes a car accident. That third-party driver could be taken to court and found to be at fault, which can lead to further compensation, usually paid by that driver’s insurance company.
It’s worth nothing that these types of personal injury lawsuits can mean more compensation outside of a workers’ compensation claim, but it can be difficult to prove negligence or liability on the part of the third party. These third-parties are often represented by teams of lawyers provided by insurance providers — and to beat them, you need an experienced law firm like Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys working on your behalf.
Did you know that workers’ compensation rules vary depending on the state where you were hurt? For more information on workplace injuries and other frequently asked questions about Georgia workers’ compensation and disability benefits, visit our FAQs page.
In most states, PTSD benefits fall under "mental/mental," "mental-only" or "psychological" injuries. While a majority of states allow some form of compensation for mental injuries arising out of a physical injury at work (mental/physical injuries), far fewer states allow workers’ compensation for mental harm, suffering, damage, impairment, or dysfunction resulting from some action or failure to act by some individual. Find out more
Our record of winning accident cases in Georgia speaks for itself:
We fight for injured police officers & law enforcement across Georgia
While our brave men and women who wear the badge know they face risks every day, it’s impossible to be prepared for every scenario in the case of a serious work injury. That makes it imperative that injured officers hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney with considerable knowledge and expertise representing members of law enforcement.
Contact Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys today to discuss your case. We’ll put together a plan and see it through on your behalf so that you can concentrate on healing and getting back on patrol to protect and serve.