In October of 2017, a mass shooter took the lives of 58 people in Las Vegas. The event threw the nation’s politicians into multiple safety debates and saw numerous bills proposed in an attempt to either minimize the number of victims or help them recover from similar tragedies.
One year after the shooting, California Governor Jerry Brown chose to sign one of these bills into law. The state realized that the guidelines of workers’ compensation for police officers and firefighters were not flexible enough to cover for men and women who may be forced to take action outside of the state or off the clock. They chose to pass Assembly Bill No. 1749 to fix that problem, so it is important to know if you or a loved one is a California peace officer.
What the bill does
The bill allows California police officers and firefighters to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they get any injuries while performing their jobs off-duty or out of state. The peace officer’s employer ultimately determines their eligibility. The bill notes that the new law does not increase an officer’s authority to make an arrest while off the clock or allow the extension of the benefits if their injury comes from a task their workplace prohibits.
The Las Vegas shooting played a large role in the bill’s passing. Many off-duty police officers and firefighters from California were on the scene and injured while helping the victims during the attack. When they were denied coverage primarily because they were not hurt in California, the state reexamined the Labor Code. The official bill on the state government’s website specifically highlights the first responders at the Las Vegas shooting in the Labor Code’s revision.
What happens now?
While this is fantastic news for California’s peace officers, it still is not a guarantee for them to get workers’ compensation for an off-duty injury. It is still ultimately up to the employer to determine if they can get coverage or not. Some may still need time adjusting to this law, and others may try to find loopholes to deny compensation.
Even if it does not completely assure California policemen and firefighters that they are covered for out of state injuries, it does give them more of a fighting chance in the courtroom. Peace officers that face this issue should contact a local attorney that can help them acquire the financial recovery they need under these new guidelines.