Recently, a 45-year-old career police man was sitting in my office recounting how he cradled a seven-year-old child in his arms as the toddler’s life slipped away – the tragic consequence of an errant bullet from a gun battle between two angry adults.
He was despondent. He could not shake the scent of the young child all over him. He was in therapy, slowly developing some sense of normalness. Yet, the thought of going back out into the streets caused waves of anxiety to wash over him.
On another day, another policeman recounted to me the moment he was getting prepared to go out on the street and he started to sweat profusely, feel dizzy, and feel a heavy sensation in his chest – he was suffering a myocardial infarction – a heart attack. The good news – he survived. The bad news – his days of police work were over. The cardiologist stamped his ticket. This career ending event also threw the officer into an emotional tailspin. His therapist also declared his police work days done.
The job of a beat cop is fraught with the unknown – the danger – the unexpected.
Fortunately, in Pennsylvania our legislature many years ago recognized the heightened risks facing police – fireman – first responders – corrections officers – mental health workers in state institutions – and a number of other occupations. It is called the Heart and Lung Act (there is a companion statute known as Act 532/634, which is a discussion for another day)
The Heart and Lung Act provides unique financial protection – 100 percent of salary -no deductions – during the period of temporary disability from a work-related injury. And, if the work events as described above result in a permanent inability to go back to the police force, or the fire department, or the correction facility, the injured worker can pivot to the Workers Compensation Act for long term financial protection. (Depending on the age of the worker or the extent of the disability, the worker can also qualify for Social Security Disability).
The attorneys of Quatrini Rafferty represent first responders all day, every day. We know the rules. We know the solutions. If you face a life changing event at work, please call us first. There is no fee for an initial consultation with one of our certified attorneys in Greensburg, Pittsburgh, Latrobe, or Altoona.