Off-Duty Orange County Deputies Denied
Workers Comp for Las Vegas Shooting
During the tragic mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, four courageous off-duty Orange County sheriff’s deputies rushed into action. As the gunman fired into the crowd from a hotel window these heroic first responders hastened to the aid of victims – risking their own safety.
The gunman killed 59 people and wounded 546 – including these 4 police officers, and other off-duty law enforcement, who ran headfirst into danger to come to the aid of others.
Subsequently, these brave Orange County sheriff’s deputies filed workers comp claims for their injuries suffered injuries while responding to the shooting. Sadly, these workers compensation claims were completely denied.
Why the Orange County Sheriffs were Denied Workers Comp
California’s labor code clearly states that public agencies must pay workers’ comp benefits to off-duty officers who are injured while they are involved in the “protection or preservation of life or property, or the preservation of the peace anywhere in this state … even if the officer is not at the time acting under the immediate direction of (the) employer.”
Where the problem arises are the words “in this state.” This law doesn’t say that off-duty police activities out-of-state are covered. But the law also does not say that out-of-state injuries are not covered.
Attorneys for the injured officers argue that the lack of specific reference to out-of-state injuries in the labor code means that incidents that occur outside of California are not automatically excluded from comp coverage.
However, Orange County (the officers’ employer) and its workers’ comp insurance company are stating that because the law only says “in this state,” that out-of-state injuries are not covered, even when acting in the line of duty.
Orange County’s attorney told a local paper that “the law is clear” that out-of-state incidents do not qualify for workers compensation and that “There’s no wiggle room, there’s no discretion,” Page said.
He was also quoted in the paper as saying: “There’s no ill will here.”
Our Orange County Workers Comp Attorneys’ Opinion
Our Orange County Workers Comp attorneys’ have devoted their careers to assisting injured workers obtain the benefits they deserve. Among our clients are hundreds of public safety officer who have been injured in the line of duty.
We admire, respect and are grateful to these selfless men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis to help others.
As a matter of public policy, we feel strongly that this law should be interpreted to compensate our injured officers whenever and wherever they respond to the call of duty. Our workers’ compensation attorneys believe that “preservation of life” should not be restricted by the officer’s location.
This issue will ultimately be appealed and eventually decided by the courts. Additionally, the vagueness and “subject to interpretation” of the current law should be remedied with legislation that makes it clear that when police out-of-state are trying valiantly working to save lives, we do not want to put limitations on their efforts.
Our Orange County workers’ comp attorneys are closely following this situation, and will post updates to our blog as the case progresses.
In the meantime, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to the brave men and women who sacrifice for our safety every day.