No Workers’ Compensation for Off Duty California Police Officers Injured in Las Vegas Shooting
In the wake of the recent shooting in Las Vegas, numerous news reporting agencies have expressing shock and disbelief over California’s denial of workers’ compensation benefits to its police officers that were injured during the attack. Most people believe that police officers should be beneficiaries of workers’ compensation benefits when they place their lives on the line to protect and serve, even when working off duty. Unfortunately, extending benefits to these heroes is not that simple.
Without being deputized, an officer’s ability to act in any official capacity ends at the state line. Even federal law enforcement officers have to be deputized by a state before they are able to enforce that state’s law. This mechanism protects state sovereignty, and is also a Constitutional right that expressly reserves general "police power" to the state. Because they were not deputized, the California police officers were acting as private citizens.
Of note, it would not be handled any differently in Alabama. While Alabama does extend workers’ compensation benefits to police officers when they sustain injuries while acting in a law enforcement capacity (whether they are technically on duty or not), the reach of those benefits has not extended to officers outside the confines of the state. Thankfully, no Alabama officers were injured in Las Vegas.
About the Author
This blog submission was prepared by Karen Cleveland, an attorney with Fish Nelson & Holden, LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing self-insured employers, insurance carriers, and third party administrators in all matters related to workers’ compensation. Fish Nelson & Holden is a member of the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network. If you have any questions about this submission or Alabama workers’ compensation in general, please contact Cleveland by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her directly at 205-332-1599.