Move Over for Police Officers on the Side of the Road!

A police officer assists a man in reflective clothing in coordinating a vehicle incident off the side of a roadway.

When winter weather strikes, Minnesota’s State Trooperspolice officers, and sheriff’s deputies are out in full force to assist motorists involved in crashes or in need of assistance due to bad road conditions. Move over and slow down when you see an officer on the side of the road. Watch this powerful video from the Minnesota State Patrol’s Facebook page:

Unfortunately, while they are helping motorists in need of assistance, our State’s law enforcement officers are placed in harm’s way. Every winter, dozens of Minnesota police officers suffer injuries as a result of a car accident. All too often, these crashes occur while an officer is assisting a motorist and another motorist loses control or is not paying attention and hits the officer who is stopped on the side of the road. An officer is far more likely to be killed or seriously injured as a result of a car crash than being killed or seriously injured by gunfire.

State Troopers, police officers and sheriff’s deputies who suffer injuries as the result of a car crash –whether it is on the side of the road during a stop, while helping motorists involved in a crash, during a pursuit, while responding to a call with lights and sirens, or while on patrol – may be eligible for a number of different types of benefits. Securing these benefits on behalf of the injured officer will ensure access to medical care and cover any lost wages that may occur:

Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) Police and Fire Plan Duty Disability Benefits or Minnesota State Retirement Association (MSRS) State Patrol Plan Duty Disability Benefits

State Trooper or police officer who suffers serious injuries resulting in limitations on their ability to perform full duty for a period of at least a year may be eligible for PERA/MSRS Duty Disability benefits. This monthly benefit provides a base rate of 60% of the injured officer’s high five salaryThese benefits are non-taxable though age 55 or for 5 years, whichever is longer. Usually, injuries that are the result of an on-duty car crash will qualify for this benefit.

Minnesota Statute 299A.465 Continuation of Health Insurance Benefits

Minnesota troopers and police officers who are determined to be eligible for Duty Disability benefits through PERA or MSRS are also eligible for Continuation of Health Insurance Benefits in accordance with Minn. Stat. § 299A.465. This statute requires the State Trooper or police officer’s employer to continue to pay insurance premiums for health insurance coverage for the officer, and the officer’s family if the officer had family coverage at the time of the injury. This benefit continues through age 65.

Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Troopers and other law enforcement officers are also eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for injuries suffered in the line of duty, including injuries that occur as a result of a car crash. Minnesota workers’ compensation includes medical expense benefits, wage loss benefitspermanent partial disability benefits, and rehabilitation benefits. In many cases, the officer may also be eligible for a lump sum settlement.

Personal Injury Civil Liability Claims

In addition to disability pension benefits and workers’ compensation benefits, a police officer who suffers injuries as the result of a motor vehicle crash may also be able to assert a liability claim against the at-fault driver. These claims allow an officer to make claims for past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, and past and future pain and suffering – which is not covered by workers’ compensation.

Choosing the right lawyer matters. For Minnesota police officers and State Troopers involved in car crashes, choosing the right lawyer is important. There are several large personal injury firms that do a fantastic job on personal injury claims. BUT, what they don’t do is just as important for Troopers and police officers – those large firms do not handle workers’ compensation or PERA/MSRSA disability claims.  That means that if you hire one of these firms to handle your personal injury claim, you will need to have a second lawyer to handle your workers’ compensation claim, and you are on your own or might even need to hire a third lawyer to help you with your pension claim.

We have heard it time and again – a police officer has hired a lawyer to assist them with their car accident claim, but they are getting no help or guidance on their workers’ compensation or pension claims. They don’t know what steps to take, how to deal with disputes that pop up on their workers’ compensation claims, how to deal with their employer, what to do about their work restrictions and light duty, and what to expect as far as whether they will be able to continue in their job.

At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we handle ALL claims arising out of an in the line of duty car crash for Minnesota police officers. Meuser Law Office, P.A. is the pre-eminent law firm in the State of Minnesota for police officers and firefighters. Coordinating the various claims is complex and a misstep, such as missing a deadline, not filling out paperwork properly, or simply not providing appropriate guidance can cost a officer hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in benefits.

As we get into the homestretch of winter, we can expect several more snowfalls and more bad road conditions. Don’t be the one that is responsible for injuring one of our State’s law enforcement officers. Slow down and move over if you see an officer on the side of the road!

If you are an officer who has suffered injuries due to a car crash, call us first! The experienced attorneys of Meuser Law Office, P.A. will coordinate all of your potential claims to ensure you and your family have access to the full benefits you are entitled to. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.