Friday, March 18, 2016

Overview of Benefits Available to State Troopers Who Sustain In-the-Line-of-Duty Injuries

There are several types of benefits available to State Troopers who are injured in the line of duty, depending on the individual circumstances of the case. It can be complicated to coordinate these different types of benefits to ensure you are maximizing your financial recovery. Working with an attorney experienced in this area of the law is always best. Here is a brief overview of the benefits available to State Troopers:

1. Workers’ Compensation Benefits. All Troopers who sustain work-related injuries are covered by Minnesota workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation benefits include payment for reasonable and necessary medical expenses, wage loss benefits – including temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, and even permanent total disability benefits, rehabilitation benefits – including the assistance of a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC) and possibly retraining benefits, and permanent partial disability benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits are non-taxable.

2. MSRS State Patrol Plan Duty Disability Benefits. If a State Trooper sustains an injury while performing “inherently dangerous duties,” and that injury results in a disability that is expected to prevent the Trooper from returning to full duty for a period of at least a year, that Trooper may be eligible for State Patrol Plan Duty Disability Benefits. State Patrol Plan Duty Disability Benefits are payable at a base rate of 60% of the Trooper’s high-five salary. These benefits are non-taxable through age 55 or for five years, whichever is longer. There are complex rules that govern the coordination of MSRS Duty Disability Benefits with workers’ compensation benefits.

3. Continuation of Health Insurance Benefits under Minn. Stat. § 299A.465. A Minnesota State Trooper who is determined to be eligible for MSRS State Patrol Plan Duty Disability Benefits is also eligible for Continuation of Health Insurance Benefits under Minn. Stat. § 299A.465. This benefit requires the State to continue to pay its share of the Trooper’s health insurance premiums through age 65.

4. Third-Party Liability Claims. Given the sheer amount of time Minnesota State Troopers spend on the road, all too often, Troopers sustain serious or even career-ending injuries as the result of an auto collision. If there is a third party at fault for the collision, the Trooper may have a civil liability claim against the at-fault third party, in addition to his or her claims for workers’ compensation, MSRS Duty Disability Benefits, and Continuation of Health Insurance Benefits under Minn. Stat. § 299A.465. A civil liability claim against an at-fault third party allows the injured State Trooper to claim damages such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that are not covered by other sources. If the at-fault party has inadequate insurance coverage to compensate an injured Trooper for his or her losses, there may be additional claims for underinsured coverage.

5. Other Disability Benefits. State Troopers may also have access to other sources of disability benefits, including PTSD Benefits under Minn. Stat. § 299A.475, which provides compensation for up to a year’s worth of unreimbursed wage loss and medical expense if a Trooper lawfully takes a life or causes substantial bodily harm in the line of duty. State Troopers may also be covered by Short-Term or Long-Term Disability policies or Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance policies.

To illustrate, Meuser Law Office, P.A. recently represented a State Trooper who sustained serious injuries when she was hit head-on by an at-fault civilian driver. Her medical expenses and wage loss were covered by Minnesota workers’ compensation, and she was ultimately able to recover a substantial workers’ compensation settlement. In addition, because her injuries ultimately resulted in her permanent disablement from returning to law enforcement, she was also approved for MSRS State Patrol Plan Duty Disability Benefits and Continuation of Health Insurance Benefits. She also received a monthly benefit from her Long-Term Disability Insurance. Finally, she sued the at-fault driver and recovered a settlement worth several hundred thousand dollars.

If you are a Minnesota State Trooper who has sustained serious work-related injuries, contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. today at 877-746-5680 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your potential claims for benefits. Our knowledgeable attorneys will help you understand the often confusing Duty Disability benefits law and ensure you receive the full benefits you are entitled to.

Jennifer Yackleyby Jen Yackley
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