4-1-1 on Comp: California First Responder Legislation

Bruce Burk

Sacramento, CA (WorkersCompensation.com) – California has passed a new law that provides increased workers’ compensation benefits for first responders. AB-1749, signed by the governor on Sept. 23, was passed in response to the Las Vegas shooting which occurred approximately one year ago.

California police officers and firefighters who are injured off duty, even when they are out of state, may still be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured or killed while doing so.

An injury is usually required to occur within the course and scope of employment to be entitled to workers’ comp benefits. This bill broadens the definition of course and scope of employment to include when these peace officers are not acting under the direction of their immediate supervisor.

The course and scope of employment element typically requires workers to be doing a task or part of their job description that is given to them by a superior. However, some police officers can be considered “on-call” and working 24 hours per day, because they can be expected to respond to a call on a moment’s notice.

This appears to imply that a California first responder could collect workers’ compensation benefits anywhere in the country if the first responder is “serving the public purposes” of the employer.

This language is extremely broad and this kind of language could potentially be interpreted to favor claimants who are putting themselves in danger/crisis situations.

According to Section 1, Section 3600.2 (a) of the Amended Labor Code:

“…Whenever any peace officer, as defined in Section 50920 of the Government Code, is injured, dies, or is disabled from performing his or her duties as a peace officer by reason of engaging in the apprehension or attempted apprehension of law violators or suspected law violators, or protection or preservation of life or property, or the preservation of the peace, anywhere in this state, including the local jurisdiction in which he or she is employed, but is not at the time acting under the immediate direction of his or her employer, the peace officer or his or her dependents, as the case may be, shall be accorded by the peace officer’s employer all of the same benefits, including the benefits of this division, that the peace officer or his or her dependents would have received had that peace officer been acting under the immediate direction of his or her employer… ,” the bill text reads.

The passage of the legislation brings memory to how brutal the Las Vegas shooting was. 59 people died and 422 people were injured by gunfire. There is a public policy necessity for states to be able to bring in first responders from local jurisdictions in a time of crisis such as this. This law protects first responders when they do just that.

The bill specifically references references the Oct. 1, 2017 Las Vegas shooting and extends benefits to all of the peace officers who were injured in that shooting.

The text of the bill can be seen here.

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