Maryland’s Workers Compensation Act provides special considerations for police officers. Police officers willingly place their lives at risk to protect the public. Because of their jobs, law enforcement officers are at a higher risk for some work-related illnesses than employees in other occupations. Therefore, the workers’ compensation laws include certain presumptions for some illnesses that police officers may develop while performing their duties. In addition to the presumption of certain illnesses, police officers may also be entitled to increased permanency rates, coverage for secondary jobs, and coverage for using patrol cars while off duty.
Presumption of Occupational Illnesses for Police Officers
A presumption that an illness or disease was caused because of a police officer’s employment is not a guarantee of workers’ comp benefits. It does mean that the burden of proof shifts to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to prove that the illness or disease is not an occupational illness.
If a police officer is diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) or heart disease, it is presumed that the condition is an occupational illness because of the highly stressful nature of the job and the enormous demands placed on police officers. The officer does not need to prove that the job caused the illness.
However, the officer does need to prove that heart disease or high blood pressure results in a disabling condition that prevents the officer from performing all or some of the officer’s job duties. If the health condition can be treated by medication and does not create an impairment that prevents the officer from performing his or her duties, a workers’ comp claim could be denied.
Increased Permanency Rates for Impairments
If a police officer sustains a permanent impairment, the officer is typically entitled to receive a higher settlement than the average worker for the same injury. Permanent impairments for public safety employees are typically calculated based on a second-tier permanency rate.
Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Second Jobs and While Off Duty
Many police officers moonlight (work a second job) to make ends meet. Typically, if an employee works a second job his primary employer’s workers’ compensation coverage does not extend to the second job. Police officers are an exception. If the police officer was performing a task that benefited the employer’s purpose, an accident while on a second job might be covered by the department’s workers’ compensation coverage.
Likewise, a police officer who is injured while off duty may also be covered by workers’ comp benefits in some cases. For instance, if the officer is driving a patrol vehicle that is provided by the department and is injured in a car crash while off duty, the injuries may be covered by workers’ comp if the officer was using the vehicle for work purposes.
You May Need Help With Your Workers’ Comp Claim
Even though police officers are afforded certain considerations under Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation Act, it does not mean that a workers’ comp insurance provider will not object to a claim or use any available argument to reduce its liability for a claim.
If you are injured on the job, we can help. Call Pinder Plotkin at 410-525-5337 to schedule a free consultation with a Maryland workers’ compensation lawyer.