Under state law, most workers injured on the job are covered by workers' compensation insurance - but not New York City police officers. NYPD officers injured in the line of duty may pursue compensation for their injuries through other avenues, and depending on the circumstances, there may be more than one legal option available.
Our New York City injury lawyers at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, have been successfully representing the injured for more than 50 years. We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients in a range of injury matters, including work-related injuries. If you are a law enforcement officer who was injured in the line of duty, you can rely on our legal team to provide outstanding representation in your claim for compensation or benefits.
Under the New York City Police Pension Fund, an officer who has become incapacitated for the performance of duty as the result of an accident sustained in active service through no fault of the officer’s own may apply for Accident Disability Retirement (ADR) benefits. ADR benefits are calculated at 50% of the average final salary, less 50% of primary Social Security Disability benefits. Payments begin after approval by the NYC Police Pension Fund Board of Trustees.
Disabled officers who meet certain eligibility requirements may apply for Ordinary Disability Benefits (ODR). To be eligible for ODR, an officer must:
- Be in active service;
- Have 5 years of credited service, minimum;
- Be not yet eligible for Normal Service Retirement; and
- Qualify for primary Social Security Disability benefits.
Line of Duty Injury (LODI) benefits are also available to active-duty NYPD officers who participated in World Trade Center operations. Officers may be eligible for free medical treatment for injuries and illnesses arising from WTC participation.
Compared to other professions, police officers are far more at risk of suffering serious or fatal injuries while on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although these fatal and non-fatal injuries have many causes, the most common are:
- Violence by Persons or Animals: This is the number one cause of both non-fatal and fatal injuries to police officers. Such violence accounts for about 27% of non-fatal injuries, and more than 55% of fatal injuries. Violence may be an expected part of being a police officer, but that doesn’t mean the officer’s family has to accept the loss of their loved one without taking action against whoever is responsible for it.
- Transportation Incidents: Transportation incidents, including vehicle collisions and officers being struck by cars and trucks while outside of their vehicles, account for the next highest amount of fatal injuries. Only 14% of non-fatal injuries, but more than 41% of fatal injuries, are caused by transportation incidents.
- Falls: Slips, trips, and falls are rarely fatal for police officers, but they can cause serious injuries. More than 25% of the most common events that injure police officers are slip-and-falls. Injuries from these accidents can be very painful, especially if an officer injures his or her neck, shoulders, or back. Brain damage from a fall can seriously impact the rest of a police officer's life, as well as the lifestyle of his or her loved ones.
- Overexertion: Police officers, like firefighters, are often called to push themselves to their physical limits. As such, more than 21% of non-fatal injuries that police officers suffer are caused by overexertion while on the job, though these injuries are almost never fatal. Muscle sprains and pulls, along with torn tendons and ligaments, are fairly common. These injuries can be quite painful and may require several months of recovery.
- Contact with Objects: This includes police officers struck by machinery or running into large objects while responding to a call. These injuries are typically not fatal, but account for almost 9% of non-fatal injuries for police officers. Painful bruises, lacerations, and broken bones can be caused by striking or being struck by an object, and internal injuries can occur in serious cases.
- Exposure to Harmful Substances: Harmful substances and environments, though more common for firefighters, can be quite dangerous for police officers as well. This can include things such as contact with asbestos or toxic fumes and chemicals, as well as exposure to radiation or uncontrolled electricity. Such exposure is not usually fatal, but does cause about 3% of all non-fatal injuries.
In some cases, injured officers may be able to recover more than disability benefits by filing civil personal injury claims for compensation. Under New York General Municipal Law §205-E, New York police officers injured in the line of duty may sue any other party for damages, including their employer and coworkers who violated a law, and through this action, directly or indirectly caused the officer's injuries.
New York City police officers also have the right to sue individuals and companies responsible for their injuries under negligence and premises liability laws. For example, an officer injured in a traffic accident caused by a driver who failed to yield the right-of-way to a police car with flashing lights and sirens may be entitled to recover compensation from the negligent driver. A police officer may also sue a property owner for damages in a premises liability claim, if a hazardous condition on the property caused the officer's injuries.
If you suffered a serious line-of-duty injury as an NYPD officer, it is in your best interests to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, our New York City workers' compensation attorneys can provide the dedicated legal assistance you need. We can advise you of your options and help you pursue the maximum compensation you are have the right to collect. Contact our office today for a free case consultation. We can be reached at (212) 986-7353.