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Injuries to Law Enforcement Officers that May Be Covered by Workers’ Compensation

police car with lights runningLaw enforcement is an important but dangerous job. Police officers and other law enforcement personnel are regularly in harm’s way. California has passed legislation to help speed up the process of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits for certain injuries and medical conditions.

A knowledgeable Bakersfield workers’ compensation lawyer from Berry, Smith & Bartell is available to review the circumstances of your claim and let you know if you have one of these injuries. We can also assist you with an appeal if your claim is denied.

What Are Presumptive On-Duty Injuries?

California law presumes that when law enforcement officers develop certain medical conditions, it is because of an on-the-job injury. These injuries/medical conditions include:

  • Blood-borne infections
  • Cancer
  • Hernia
  • Heart issues
  • Medical complications that are linked to chemical or biological agents
  • Meningitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Back trouble (only applies to peace officers)

In some cases, these presumptions may even apply after the law enforcement member retires. Most of the presumptions apply up to five years from the law enforcement officer’s last day of work, if he or she can provide evidence to prove the condition developed within the last five years.

Even though these are presumptive injuries, the presumption can be overcome if the law enforcement agency shows that the injury was not caused at work.

What Can Cause These Injuries?

Law enforcement officers work a dangerous job. They may be exposed to several workplace hazards that increase their likelihood of being harmed. Some conditions that may develop in law enforcement officers due to their unique workplace hazards include:

Heart Conditions

Law enforcement officers may develop several serious heart conditions because of their job, including heart attack, heart disease or cardiac death. This is because law enforcement officers often encounter stressful situations.

A Harvard School of Public Health and Cambridge Health Alliance study revealed that law enforcement officers are between 30 to 70 times more likely to suffer from sudden cardiac death when they are involved in certain stressful situations than workers in other professions.

Situations that can increase the likelihood of an event include:

  • Restraints
  • Altercations
  • Pursuits
  • Physical training
  • Medical or rescue operations

Bloodborne Illnesses or Exposure to Biological Agents

Law enforcement officers may be exposed to blood on their job during routine or one-time events, such as:

  • Finding victims of a crime who are bleeding
  • Performing emergency treatment on victims of crimes
  • Being injured by a suspect during an arrest
  • Assisting car accident victims
  • Picking up needles from drug users
  • Collecting evidence with blood or other biological agents on it

When law enforcement officers encounter blood, they may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens, including:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Syphilis
  • Malaria
  • Brucellosis

Additionally, law enforcement officers may encounter other biological agents that carry these diseases, such as saliva, broken skin, mucus, semen or vaginal secretions.

Exposure to Chemicals

Law enforcement officers may be exposed to a variety of dangerous chemicals on the job, such as:

  • Lead – Law enforcement officers are exposed to lead during firearm training and when fingerprinting suspects.
  • Ammonia, lye, rubbing alcohol, ephedrine – Law enforcement officers can be exposed to these chemicals when they find hidden drug laboratories.  
  • Oleoresin capsicum, o-chlorobenzylidene malonitrile or Omega-chloroacetophenone – These chemicals are found in pepper sprays and riot-control gases.

How an Attorney May be Able to Help with Your Claim

Law enforcement officers who put their own lives at risk deserve to receive compensation if they are injured on the job. If you have suffered one of the presumptive injuries discussed above or another work-related injury, contact Berry, Smith & Bartell at your earliest convenience.

We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to review your claim. We can discuss the specifics of your claim and any problems that you may encounter. Our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, so we charge nothing for our services unless we help you recover compensation. There are no upfront fees. There is no risk in contacting us to learn more about your claim and learning whether we can help you recover compensation for your work injury.

For a free case evaluation with Berry, Smith & Bartell, a Professional Law Corporation call 1-800-848-6288 today!

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