Posted on February 15, 2019 in Workers Compensation
Public safety workers like police officers, firefighters, and paramedics put their lives on the line every day to provide assistance to people in need, including victims of car accidents, fires, and construction accidents. Due to the physical nature of their job, public safety employees are at risk for a range of work-related injuries that can result in missed work, costly medical expenses, and a compromised quality of life.
While public safety workers are quick to protect the health and safety of others, they are not always quick to address their own injuries. This is unfortunate, since an untreated injury can become worse over time. Workers’ Compensation provides multiple benefits to public safety workers who have been injured on the job.
Public safety workers are exposed to a range of potentially life-threatening injuries and illnesses. For example, firefighters are often exposed to toxic chemicals that can increase the risk of certain types of cancer, lung disease, and heart disease.
According to the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission, police officers filed the most claims for Workers’ Compensation benefits in 2009, and firefighters ranked seventh as having the most job-related injuries.
Benefits Available to Public Safety Workers
Medical Expenses: Workers’ Compensation generally covers all medical costs associated with a workplace injury. It is important to understand that health care providers are not likely to accept third-party coverage if the injury was work-related.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD): The injured worker can collect these benefits until they are able to return to work. The benefit is capped at two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage (AWW), based on 13 pay periods prior to the injury, and cannot exceed 100 percent of the state average weekly wage (SAWW).
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): If the worker’s physician determines that further treatment is not going to improve the employee’s condition, it may mean that the worker has reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). If this is the case, the worker’s physician and the insurer’s physician will have to determine whether the employee has a permanent partial disability (PPD).
The benefits that the worker will receive are based on a rating that the two physicians agree upon. The number of weeks that the worker will receive benefits depends on the body part that was injured, ranging from 25 weeks to 500 weeks. The number of weeks is then calculated by the percentage of the disability.
Claimants with minor-tier disabilities receive one-third of the AWW, times the number of compensable weeks, not to exceed one-third of the SAWW. Claimants with mid-tier disabilities receive two-thirds of the AWW, times the number of compensable weeks, not to exceed 50 percent of the SAWW.
In most cases, public safety workers receive mid-tier benefits.