Officer Paralyzed on Duty Could Lose Workers Comp Benefits in Ruling
A police officer from Fort Worth, who was paralyzed from the chest down, could lose her workers comp benefits, or see her benefits cut in half, in a city council vote on Tuesday, July 9th.
Lisa Ramsay was shot in the chest 10 years ago while trying to arrest a suspected drug dealer. The injury paralyzed her from the chest down, leaving her with huge medical bills and constant health problems. Although Ramsay is able to work part-time, she says that she needs benefits, including workers comp benefits, to continue to support her daughter and pay her medical bills.
She has requested that the Fort Worth city council vote to extend her workers comp benefits, which have been extended several times in the last 10 years, and work for income at the same time.
If the council votes to deny her request this time, it could force her into medical retirement.
Ramsay has been working 20 hours a week, but has been unable to work since November 2012 because of complications related to her injury.
“I’ve been told that we’ve had a number of officers get hurt, and we need a policy in place,” Ramsey said. “I kind of feel like I’m being made an example of. They are saying we need to be in compliance and we need to clean everything up.”
Ramsay added that she is 5 years away from retirement, and wants to continue to work because she is supporting her daughter, and also has constant, large medical bills. She is able to work 20 hours a week at the police headquarters because she works in the gang unit office, running background checks on a computer and making phone calls.
She says that if she loses some of her line-of-duty benefits, or her workers comp benefits, her pay will be cut in half and she would have to work 40 hours a week to accumulate enough money and leave time for when she needs to be out of the office due to medical complications.
City Officials Trying to Comply with State Workers Comp Laws
According to Assistant City Manager Susan Alanis, injured officers can have up to a year of fully-paid leave with workers comp, and that can be extended if the officer needs further time to recover. Ramsay’s workers comp benefits have already been extended several times, however.
Ramsay is now eligible for lifetime workers comp benefits, which boosted her into collecting more than her base salary working for the police department. Ramsey is getting $77,292.80 in line-of-duty benefits and $35,373 in lifetime workers compensation benefits.
“The combined payment for lifetime workers comp and civil service line-of-duty benefits should not exceed what their normal base pay would have been,” Alanis said. “The city has gone beyond what the law allows, and we need to correct that.”
If Ramsay chooses medical retirement, she would still make more than her base salary, Alanis says.
Sgt. Steve Hall, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association, said he is disappointed that the city wants to change the rules.
“This always brings up doubt in an officer’s mind. If something happens to me, are they going to change the rules in mid-game?” Hall said. “With our recent concerns over workers comp and lack of support from workers comp, is our well-being going to be protected?”
The Strom Law Firm Understands Worker’s Comp Legislation
The workers comp lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local county, city, and state government. We are licensed to practice throughout South Carolina, as well as Georgia and New York. If you are confused about worker’s comp laws, or have had your worker’s comp claim denied, contact us. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800.