Cops Who Use Deadly Force Not Entitled To Workers’ Comp

South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

South Carolina law enforcement officers who have experienced mental trauma after killing someone in the line of duty are not entitled to workers’ compensation. This news comes after a ruling was announced Wednesday by the South Carolina Supreme Court.
The justices stated that the current workers’ compensation law does not cover mental health issues for officers who have had to use deadly force because they are trained to do so and understand that they may have to use it. The 3-2 decision stated that as the statue is written, only those officers who have experience mental distress from “extraordinary and unusual” job conditions may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
The ruling came after Brandon Bentley, a Spartanburg County deputy sheriff, shot and killed a man in the line of duty in 2009. Bentley states the man threatened to take his own gun and kill him. Bentley said the incident caused him to suffer from anxiety and depression making him too stressed and unable to work, according to his doctors.
Bentley applied and was denied workers’ compensation benefits. The commissioners stated that deputies receive training in the use of deadly force and know that at some point they may have to use it. Sheriff Chuck Wright defended the commissioners’ remarks while testifying in a hearing. Sheriff Wright said his deputies were trained to use deadly force and situations may arise where deputies may be forced to shoot and kill someone.
The South Carolina Supreme Court ruling stated, “The use of deadly force is within the normal scope and duties of a Spartanburg Country deputy sheriff.”
Justice Kaye Hearn issued the dissenting opinion stating, “I would hold that Deputy Bentley’s mental injuries…are compensable because while shooting and killing a suspect in the line of duty may have been something he was trained to do, it was clearly an unusual and extraordinary part of his job as a law enforcement officer.”
This workers’ compensation ruling expands to not just law enforcement, but to people in other lines of work as well. The justices said the state law should be amended to include mental health issues. The justices recommended eliminating the “unusual and extraordinary” circumstances requirement for compensation for those who suffer mental trauma in other lines of work.
Bentley’s attorney was not readily available for comment. Sheriff Wright stated that workers’ compensation benefits should be determined and considered on a case-by-case basis.
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured while working, contact a South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer at the Strom Law Firm today to see how we can help you. We understand being injured at work can be devastating physically, emotionally and financially. Our South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer will fight to get you the money you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800.