Workers Compensation for Safety Officers:
Police, Sheriff’s Deputies and Firefighters
How Much Will A California Safety Officer Get in Workers’ Comp Benefits?
Safety Officers (Police, Sheriff’s Deputies and Firefighters) who are covered under the County Employees Retirement Law or the Public Employees Retirement System come under the benefit provisions of Labor Code Section 4850. This law provides covered safety officers with workers’ compensation disability payments of up to one year’s full salary, free from income tax, while an individual member is temporarily totally or permanently disabled from work.
In contrast, non-safety employees who are temporarily unable to continue working because of an industrial injury or illness are only eligible to receive Temporary Total Disability benefits at two-thirds of salary up to the current limits at date of injury.
In certain cases, non-sworn officers such as jailers and security officers – who are members of CERL or PERS and are employed in active law enforcement – have been held eligible for benefits under California Labor Code Section 4850. However, this is not “automatic” and in many cases the injured employee has to take the employer to court.
If the temporary disability of a safety officer (police, firefighter, sheriff’s deputy) extends beyond one year for any one injury, full salary is discontinued and temporary total disability benefits will be paid at the prevailing state rate.
Additional extended benefits may be available to California police officers, firefighter, and sheriff’s deputy who have elected to purchase a long-term disability policy, privately or through group plans. Our lawyers always remind injured or disabled safety officers to take an afternoon to sit down and take inventory of any mortgage insurance, payment guarantee policies (most installment loans offer this option for very little cost), etc., that you may have available. In the experience of our lawyers, we have found that seriously injured officers have found that this type of loan insurance has greatly relieved the stress and hardship in their lives as they begin the long road to recovery and rehabilitation from their disability..
What Type of Medical Treatment Does a Disabled Safety Worker Qualify For?
Disabled California Police Officers, Sheriff’s Deputies and Firefighters are entitled to medical treatment to cure and relieve the effects of their industrial injuries or illnesses so long as it is medically necessary. Treatment may continue for the lifetime of the injured safety worker under California law. However an order from the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board is necessary in order to guarantee treatment beyond five years from the date of injury.
California safety officers’ workers comp law also allows police officer, sheriff’s deputy and firefighter members their choice of treating doctors, if they do so before the injury or illness occurs. Your employer is required to give you the opportunity to designate your own doctor, and if you fail to do so you will be assigned a doctor by whoever administers your claim.
Our experienced disability lawyers recommend that you designate your own doctor because he or she has gotten to know you over the years and will be in a better position to give you the best personal medical care rather than a stranger who is called in on an emergency basis. If no pre-injury choice has been made, your employer will control who provides your medical treatment until you have the opportunity to elect a change of doctors – which is after thirty days from the date the injury is reported.
Discussing your unique situation with a lawyer who is experienced is California safety officer disability cases is the best way to ensure that you receive the maximum benefits to which you are entitled. A skilled lawyer knows how to prove that the disabled safety officer’s treatment is indeed “medically necessary”. And an experienced attorney will know how to properly petition the Workers’ Compensation Appeals in order to guarantee that medical treatment is provided beyond the usual five year (from the date of injury) limitation (if necessary).
When Can an Injured Safety Worker Apply for Workers’ Compensation?
It is necessary for an injured or disabled police officer, firefighter or sheriff’s deputy to file a formal claim with the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board within one year after the date of injury, or the date your employer last provided benefits, but no longer than five years from the date of injury in order to guarantee future lifetime medical care.
Even though you may have waited longer than one year from the date your last provided employer benefits – or longer than five years from the date of injury – you should still seek competent legal counsel from an experienced California workers compensation lawyer. Only an experienced attorney can determine whether the Statute of Limitations truly bars any further action. In certain limited cases, a skilled California disability lawyer can even get these time limitations extended.
The California worker’s compensation laws that apply to a disabled police officer, sheriff deputy or firefighter are unique and very specialized. The specialized lawyers at the law firm of Cantrell Green are among only a very few attorneys across Southern California that are specialized in safety officer workers’ compensation claims.
If you have been made disabled while working as a police officer, firefighter or sheriff’s deputy we offer a free consultation with an experienced disability lawyer to help you understand your rights and obtain the maximum workers compensation that you deserve under California law.
The experienced and compassionate lawyers at the Southern California Law Firm of Cantrell Green will handle your safety officers workers’ comp case with the individualized care and aggressive representation that ensures you receive the maximum benefits that you deserve, as one of California’s valued public safety officer.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Collect Police Officer, Sheriff’s Deputy or Firefighter Workers’ Comp Benefits?
The law does not require you to have an attorney represent you in connection with processing a safety officer’s California Workers’ Compensation claim. As a practical matter, however, you need to know that you will be opposed by an experienced workers’ compensation attorney whose job it is to minimize your recovery.
Keep in mind that the worker’s compensation laws that apply to a disabled police officer, sheriff deputy or firefighter are unique and very specialized. Only an experienced lawyer who has handled hundreds of safety officer workers ’ compensation cases, such as the attorneys at The Law Firm of Cantrell Green, will be able to explain your rights and ensure that you receive the maximum.
If you retain a lawyer, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board regulates the fees payable to your attorney. Currently, the range is between 9% and 15% of the disability amount ultimately awarded. If there is no money awarded to you, then no fee is payable to your attorney.
(Note: Attorney fees are negotiable for Disability Retirement Appeals, and if you retain an attorney to represent you, a separate agreement will have to be made between the both of you regarding attorney fees.)
If you have been made disabled while working as a police officer, firefighter or deputy in Orange County, the greater Los Angeles area, or anywhere in California, we offer a free consultation with an experienced lawyer to help you understand your rights.
And if you decide to hire us, the experienced lawyers at the Southern California Law Firm of Cantrell Green will handle your workers’ comp case with the individualized care and aggressive representation that ensures you receive the maximum benefits that you deserve, as one of California’s valued public safety officer.