My story in Thursday’s paper looks at police officers and lawyers who say injuries officers suffered during the April riots could have avoided had they been better equipped and allowed to engage protestors.
One thing I couldn’t fit into my story: What, if anything, makes a law enforcement workers’ compensation claim different from other claims?
The biggest difference comes when a claimant applies for permanent partial disability, according to Rebecca L. Smith, who represents members of the Maryland Troopers Association in workers’ compensation claims. The association includes 2,500 active and retired troopers with the Maryland State Police.
Permanent partial disability is divided into three levels of injury– minor-tier, mid-tier and serious-tier, Smith said. A law enforcement seeking the disability payments automatically gets placed in the mid-tier even if the injury is considered minor, said Smith, of Warnken LLC in Baltimore. The formulas are a bit complicated, but suffice it to say the maximum payment for the mid-tier injury is more than the minor-tier. (Reaching “serious-tier” is very rare no matter the profession, Smith added.)
Additionally, if hypertension and heart disease are part of an officers’ claim, it is automatically presumed to be work-related because of the stresses of the job, Smith said.
Some of the officers injured in April are claiming to have post-traumatic stress disorder. Smith said the Workers’ Compensation Commission takes mental health “very seriously” but would want to see the medical records that back up the claim.
“As long as attorneys have medical reports to support that, the commission is not going to throw it out,” she said.
Smith, who is not representing any officers injured in the riots, said the $1.7 million the city expects to pay out in claims is a “complete estimate.” The final number might not be known for some time, as workers’ compensation cases can take up to a year to resolve.