California Highway Patrol
We focus our representation on CHP Officers and staff in Humboldt and Del Norte, Trinity, and Lassen Counties.
I have been that stranded driver on a dark, rural part of Highway 101 in South Humboldt County where cell phones don't work; those situations help you appreciate the service that our California Highway Patrol provide. That's hardly the dangerous part of their jobs, but it's still appreciated by me as a citizen of these counties.
- Jason Wells, Attorney At Law
Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity, and Lassen County
From a practical perspective, officers on patrol in our part of California patrol remote roads that pass through high-crime areas. Both dispatch and patrolman have endured highly stressful events in the past years in Humboldt, Del Norte, and Lassen counties and the surrounding areas.
There is little doubt that the job of a CHP officer can be dangerous and at a minimum stressful.
Why Are Workers' Compensation CHP Cases Different?
CHP work injuries are different than regular workers' compensation cases. Since CHP are state employees, they are CalPERS employees. Workers' compensation injuries can impact a person's ability to work, and this can raise retirement issues. CHP staff especially patrolman have special laws that assist in obtaining workers' compensation benefits.
Regular workers' compensation benefits may not be the only consideration in a case involving a CHP employee.
- Jason Wells, Attorney At Law
For example: We had a corrections officer (who is also a state safety employee like a California Highway Patrolman) who decided to retire based on general health. The majority of health problems were caused by the job and were found work-related. Either way this client was going to retire through service retirement and didn't even know about Industrial Disability Retirement (IDR). My suggestion was that they apply for Service Retirement pending IDR. If denied, they'll still be where they started. If approved, IDR is a significantly better option. This client would have never known about this benefit. Most workers' compensation attorneys don't even see the issue. That is why these cases are different; they raise different issues.
Full Salary in Lieu of Temporary Disability
Based on Labor Code 4800.5, CHP who are injured in a specific injury accident are entitled to leave of absence while disabled without a loss of salary in lieu of temporary disability payments. That is, the employees are paid their full salary following an industrial injury, rather than the two-thirds paid for temporary disability. The benefits are paid for a period not exceeding one year. If the disability continues beyond one year, regular temporary disability is paid out as normal for the remainder of the disability.
Industrial Disability Retirement (IDR)
Not to be confused with IDL, Industrial Disability Retirement (IDR) is a benefit available to CHP employees (whose essential job functions are considered safety) who are medically eligible for retirement, because of a work related injury.
Essential Job Functions
Understanding CHP employees' essential functions can be critical to multitude of issues both in the workers' compensation system and other benefits provided by CalPERS. In safety cases, having an understanding of your essential job duties or your HR departments' job description on your safety position can be a critical part of handling multiple issues in your case. We recommend you obtain a job description from your HR department and review it to ensure that it accurately reflects your job duties; then provide a copy to your physician who is to assess your ability to do the job.
Injuries involving heart, pneumonia, tuberculosis, hernia, lower back, meningitis, blood borne illness, cancer, MRSA, and biochemical exposure are given special consideration by workers' compensation courts for California Highway Patrol employees who are considered safety officers. The heart, hernia, and lower back presumptions are the most common presumptions used, because those injuries are common.
The heart presumption is a critical one to understand, because heart conditions often go undetected. Our recommendation is that before any corrections employee leaves their job either through change in circumstance or retirement, they have their doctor schedule an echocardiogram (EKG) and EBCT Heart Scan to make sure the heart is functioning properly, especially if the employee has had a history of hypertensive disease. If not, the heart presumption can help get you workers' compensation benefits if there is undetected symptoms.