Police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line on a daily basis to protect the community and, in doing so, they can be subjected to a number of hazardous situations.
Each year, thousands of police officers and firefighters in the United States are injured or killed in the line of duty. After an on-the-job injury, first responders may face astronomical medical bills, need to take time off of work to recover from their injuries, or be permanently disabled and unable to return to their duties.
Police officers and firefighters who are injured while protecting and serving their fellow citizens shouldn't be forced to bear the financial burdens that follow. While the compensation provided by employers may help injured first responders pay their medical expenses, it doesn't usually cover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Fortunately, when the restitution received from employers is insufficient, police officers and firefighters who were injured on the job may be able to pursue compensation through other avenues.
If you're a first responder who was injured in the line of duty, here's what you need to know.
Protections for Injured Police Officers and Firefighters
The Indiana Workers' Compensation Act provides benefits to some, but not all, first responders. However, while the law doesn't cover “members of municipal police or fire departments” or those who are “members of a police or firefighters' pension fund,” that doesn't mean these individuals are without recourse.
Indiana Code §36-8-4-5 provides protections for municipal police officers and firefighters not covered by the Indiana Workers' Compensation Act who suffer an injury while performing their official duties, or contract an illness caused by carrying out those duties.
Protections provided under the act include:
- Medical and surgical care
- Medicines and laboratory, curative, and palliative agents and means
- X-ray, diagnostic, and therapeutic service, including during the recovery period
- Hospital and special nursing care if the physician or surgeon in considers it essential to recovery
Indiana Code §36-8-4-5's benefits are paid from the municipality's general fund and accepting these benefits doesn't prevent injured first responders from seeking additional compensation from an at-fault third party.
Seeking Compensation From a Third Party
The benefits provided by workers' compensation programs take care of medical expenses and occasionally offer temporary disability payments to partially make up for the wages lost while recovering from injuries. But, that's just about all these types of programs cover. Unfortunately, injured first responders discover the compensation received from their employers just isn't sufficient to meet their needs.
However, police officers and firefighters who were injured due to the actions of a negligent third party may be eligible for additional compensation through a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit. For example, a police officer who was hit by a car while directing traffic or working at an accident scene could file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle that struck him.
Personal injury insurance claims and lawsuits allow first responders to seek a much broader range of compensation for damages. In addition to compensation for past and future medical expenses related to the injuries, personal injury plaintiffs can also pursue financial award for:
- Wages lost while recovering from the injuries
- Loss of earning capacity if the injuries render the victim permanently disabled
- Damages sustained to any personal property
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you're a police officer or firefighter who was injured in the line of duty, you need a lawyer who can understand the unique occupational challenges you face. As a former decorated police captain, police academy instructor, and SWAT team commander, Randy Sevenish of Sevenish Law is an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows what it's like to serve and protect. Let him help you fight for the recovery you deserve.
Contact Sevenish Law today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial cases consultation.