Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each time they go out into the public to protect and serve.
While many people assume the greatest risk faced by the police involves gun violence, it is often other types of accidents and injuries that pose the greatest risk to officers. These police on-the-job injuries can:
- Bring long-lasting ramifications to an officer’s career
- Be cause for legal action to pursue both compensation and justice in court
Exposure to Harmful Toxins
When the police respond to 911 calls, they often are not sure which situations they are walking into. They may suppose that they will simply enter a residence and address the conflict at hand, only to find themselves exposed to substances like ammonia or formaldehyde used in making illegal drugs like methamphetamine.
Exposure to these chemicals can significantly compromise an officer’s health and lead to illnesses like chronic pneumonia or pulmonary fibrosis. These health conditions can shorten both an officer’s career and life expectancy. Officers who are exposed to toxins while on the job could have legal cause to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Scores of police officers are also hurt in slip and fall accidents each year in this country. They may trip on a broken sidewalk, fall on a patch of ice, or lose their balance trying to scale fences while pursuing a suspect.
Slip and fall accidents can lead to problems like dislocated discs in the spine, chronic headaches and migraines, numbness or tingling in the lower back and thighs, and severe pain in the middle to lower back. These symptoms can make returning to work difficult or impossible. They also are just cause for police officers to seek workers’ compensation benefits after suffering a slip and fall accident at work.
Police officers are taught to navigate the highways and city streets at neck breaking speeds in the police academy. Even so, they have little control over factors like the reactions of other drivers or the road conditions when they are in a high-speed chase with a suspect or responding to a 911 call.
Statistics show that traffic accidents account for the leading cause of police officer deaths on the job in this country. In 2010, 160 police officers were involved in work-related traffic accidents. Out of that 160, 73 of them died.
Officers who survive on-the-job car and motorcycle crashes often cannot go back to work right away, if ever. They need compensation for their lost wages and benefits.
Other Injuries and Illnesses
Each year, thousands of law enforcement officers sustain injuries to their bodies after being assaulted on the job. Statistics show that in 2015, more than 14,000 officers suffered assault-related injuries. Out of that number, 137 officers succumbed to their injuries.
Another on-the-job risk that law enforcement officers face each day involves being exposed to radiation from devices such as radar detectors. Officers who use these devices frequently are at a higher risk of developing, and needing treatment for, cancer. Under current federal laws, police officers who are assaulted on the job or exposed to radiation because of their radar detection devices could have just cause to file and pursue claims.
Like any other worker in the U.S., police officers are protected under their state’s workers’ compensation laws. They may have cause to file a claim and ask for compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and other monetary losses suffered because of their on-the-job accident.