Special Labor Code Sections for Work Injuries to Public Safety Officers and Firefighters
Labor Code Section 4850 - Salary Continuation
Certain law enforcement officers and firefighters are generally entitled to full payment of salary, not to exceed one year, while on leave of absence for a work injury or when permanently disabled per Labor Code Section 4850. It is important to note that this entitlement is payable up to one full year of payments, and is not limited to the one calendar year immediately following the date of injury, as the benefits may be paid during discontinuous periods of entitlement which ultimately total one year of payments. This salary continuation benefit is paid in lieu of workers' compensation temporary disability benefits. Leave of absence pursuant to this Code section does not count against personal family medical leave benefits afforded workers per California state law.
Upon expiration of Labor Code Section 4850 payments, if still temporarily disabled, the injured worker is eligible to receive workers' compensation temporary disability benefits. There are certain time limits within which an injured worker can receive temporary disability benefits, and these time limits may vary depending on the worker's date of injury. In most cases the temporary disability benefits will not be paid beyond 104 weeks of payments.
Eligible employees include:
- City police officers
- City, county or district firefighters
- Inspectors, investigators, detectives, correctional officers, or personnel with district attorney's office involved in law enforcement
- County probation officers
- Certain employees of a probation office
- Peace officers under 830.31 of the Penal Code employed on a regular, full time basis of a county of the first class
- Lifeguards, if full time by a county of the first class
- Airport police under subsection 830.33 of the Penal Code
- Harbor and Port police under subsection 830.33 of the Penal Code
- Los Angeles Unified School District school police
Certain Department of Justice employees, Port employees, Commission employees, Highway Patrol, University of California Police and University of California Firefighters, and other active law enforcement officers are also entitled to a similar leave benefit pursuant to specifically enacted subsections of Labor Code Sections 4800 to 4804.
Labor Code Sections 3212 to 3213 - Types of Injuries Presumed to be Caused by Work
Police officers and firefighters and other public safety officers are entitled to a "presumption" or advantage in proving certain types of work injuries as enumerated in Labor Code Sections 3212 through 3213.
These presumptions include:
- Labor Code Section 3212, 3212.3 to 3212.5 - Hernia, Heart Trouble and Pneumonia for various public safety workers.
- Labor Code Section 3212.1 - Cancer, including leukemia, if the member demonstrates that he or she is exposed to a known carcinogen, for peace officers and firefighters. Go to the International Agency for Research on Cancer website: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ for more information about cancer causing carcinogens. For more information about cancer related injuries and support, visit the Law Enforcement Cancer Support Foundation.
- Labor Code Section 3212.6 and 3212.10 - Tuberculosis, covers peace officers, prison guards, correctional officers and firefighters.
- Labor Code Section 3212.8 - Blood-borne infectious disease for peace officers as defined by Penal Code Section 830 et seq. and firefighters. Examples include HIV and hepatitis.
- Labor Code Section 3212.85 - Exposure to biochemical substances for peace officers as defined by Penal Code Section 830 et seq. and firefighters. Biochemical is defined as "any biological or chemical agent that may be used as a weapon of mass destruction."
- Labor Code Section 3212.9 - Meningitis for peace officers, probation officers, district attorney investigators and firefighters.
- Labor Code Section 3212.11 - Skin cancer for lifeguards.
- Labor Code Section 3212.12 - Lyme disease for peace officers and corpmembers.
- Labor Code Section 3213.2 - Lower back, "duty belt" defined. Most police officers with five years of employment that required the use of a duty belt.
Many of these presumptions extend up to 60 months from the last date of work.
It is important to note that the rules regarding apportionment were changed in 2004, pursuant to Senate Bill 899, amending Labor Code Section 4663. Apportionment is the splitting up of permanent disability based on the percentage of industrial versus non-industrial disability. However, in 2006, the Legislature amended and clarified Labor Code Section 4663 in presumption cases. Now, once a work injury is established in a presumption case per the Labor Code Sections cited above, there can be no apportionment to a preexisting disability or condition.
Pension/Disability Retirement Issues
Retirement, pension and disability issues often arise due to a work injury or illness. We believe that when these issues arise, they should be coordinated with the filing of a workers' compensation claim. There are many different retirement plans, each having different rules relating to workers' compensation benefits. It is important to consult a knowledgeable attorney to make sure that potential benefits are not lost.
Pursuant to Labor Code Section 4700, death to an employee that occurred arising out of and in the course of employment entitles partial and total dependents of the decedent to a monetary workers' compensation death benefit. Labor Code Section 4709 confers a scholarship on children dependent upon certain types of peace officers if killed (or rendered totally disabled as a result of an accident or an injury caused by external violence or physical force) while on duty. Labor Code Section 4856 allows for continued provision of health benefits to surviving spouse and dependents of deceased firefighters or peace officers.
If an officer or firefighter dies in the line of duty, the surviving spouse and minor children continue with health coverage that was in effect at the time of the death.
Personal Injury and Third-Party Lawsuits Arising from a Work Injury
What is a "Third-Party" Case?
A third-party case is a civil lawsuit against a party other than your employer who bears at least some fault for your work-related injury. In most on-the-job injuries, your first recourse is to turn to the Workers' Compensation system. Most often, Workers' Comp benefits are paid for an on-the-job injury without questioning who is at fault. However, in some instances a third party, someone other than your employer or co-employee(s) who contribute to your injury, may have some fault in causing the injury. Examples include motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall type accidents, negligence of a property owner or maintenance company, and a manufacturer or provider of a defective product. In this event, it may be possible to sue this third party for your personal injury, in addition to pursuing benefits through the Workers' Comp system.
How the "Big Picture" Works for You
It is to an injured worker's benefit to have representation for both the workers' compensation case and the third-party personal injury case handled by the same law firm. The partnership of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton and Goldstein, offers this combined Workers' Comp and Personal Injury expertise, and can assist you in maximizing your recovery for your injuries in both cases. The interplay between the two types of cases can be complex. We are positioned to maximize your overall potential recovery by looking at your situation as a whole.
This law firm experienced team of attorneys works together to develop the most effective strategies, identify the most qualified expert medical witnesses, gather all the necessary evidence to support your claims, and negotiate or litigate for the highest overall recovery for our clients.
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