County Law Enforcement
We focus our representation on California law enforcement which includes sheriff, deputy sheriff, county probation officers, juvenile probation officers, and district attorney investigators and/or inspectors.
Why Are Workers' Compensation County Law Enforcement Cases Different?
County law enforcement cases work injuries are different than regular workers' compensation cases. County safety officers and staff have special laws that assist in obtaining workers' compensation benefits. Most law enforcement personnel in California have CalPERS retirement; some have their own local retirement systems. Workers' compensation injuries can impact a person's ability to work, and this can raise retirement issues.
Regular workers' compensation benefits may not be the only consideration in cases involving a county law enforcement employees.
- Jason Wells, Attorney At Law
For example: We had a corrections officer (who is also a state safety employee like a county law enforcement) 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 4850, county sheriff officers or employees of the sheriff's office, inspectors, investigators, or detectives of the District Attorney's office, county probation,county juvenile probation officers, group counselors, or employees applicable to Penal Code 830.31 who are employed full-time are entitled to leave of absence benefits 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
The courts have also held that public safety workers who perform some of the duties of law enforcement officers or safety personnel, and who assume some of the physical and emotional risks encountered by the covered employees are entitled to benefits under LC 4850.
Industrial Disability Retirement (IDR)
Industrial Disability Retirement (IDR) is a benefit available to county law enforcement employees (whose essential job functions are considered safety) who are medically eligible for retirement because of a work related injury.
Essential Job Functions
Understanding county law enforcement employees' essential job functions can be critical to a 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.
Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs
Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs with injuries involving heart, pneumonia, tuberculosis, lower back, meningitis, blood borne illness, cancer, MRSA, and biochemical exposure are given special consideration by workers' compensation courts.
County Probation Officers and Juvenile County Probation Officers
County probation officers and juvenile county probation officers with injuries involving heart, pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis, blood borne illness, MRSA, and biochemical exposure are given special consideration by workers' compensation courts.
District Attorney Investigators and Inspectors
District attorney investigators and inspectors with injuries involving heart, pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis, blood borne illness, MRSA, and biochemical exposure are given special consideration by workers' compensation courts.
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.