During last month’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, several off-duty California police officers took decisive action and some were even injured. When they returned home, their workers’ compensation claims were denied.
The California statute states that public agencies must pay benefits to off-duty officers hurt while they are involved in the protection or preservation of life or property, or the preservation of peace anywhere in the state, but it makes no mention of out-of-state incidents.
Some attorneys believe that ambiguities in the legislation should be resolved by lawmakers. Others believe that preservation of life leaves no restrictions on the officer’s location at the time of the incident.
The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs stated: “Where the law is vague, the legislature has instructed the courts to liberally construe workers’ compensation statutes in favor of injured workers.”
If the claims are approved, taxpayers may have to pay the officers’ medical bills, and the officers could be eligible for paid time off and early retirement.