“No, but our neighbors do,” responds the mother with widening eyes.
She points the way, and both police officers sprint ahead. Running down some uneven garden stairs, one of the police officers trips, falling down 14 steps. He breaks his arm and hits his head on the brick. The arm heals, but the traumatic brain injury (TBI) will continue to cause medical problems for years.
How dangerous is it to be a member of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police? According to a major national study, police officers are three times more likely to sustain workplace injuries than other U.S. workers. In addition, the injury rate for police officers has increased significantly in the last 20 years, while the injury rate for other U.S. workers has declined.
When the police arrive, the noise has stopped. The officers speak with family members in the living room when a drunk man suddenly emerges from a back bedroom. He bellows with anger and charges at the officers with a knife. The officers restrain him, but not before the drunken man slashes one of the officers across the face.
Despite receiving immediate care, the injury causes the police officer months of difficulty eating and speaking. The injury permanently disfigures the officer’s face.
Law enforcement work is unpredictable, active, and high-stakes. Shift work increases stress and affects situational pressure. Policing includes running and sprinting, carrying injured people, restraining aggressive offenders, using self-defensive actions, and engaging in other manual tasks (source). Common workplace injuries for police officers include muscular-skeletal injuries when controlling offenders who resist arrest, soft tissue injuries resulting from trips and falls, and motor vehicle accidents. Weapons such as guns and knives cause traumatic injuries to police officers involved in violent encounters and assaults.
A major study published in American Journal of Preventative Medicine (2018) tracked the number of police officers treated in emergency departments over a period of 11 years. The study investigated the fatal and nonfatal workplace injuries experienced by active law enforcement agents while on the job. The results proved policing to be exceptionally dangerous. “The overall rate of 635 per 10,000 full-time equivalents was three times higher than all other U.S. workers rate (213 per 10,000 full-time equivalents)” (H. Tiesman, et al., 2018)
What are the most common causes of workplace injuries for police officers on the job?
Researchers identified the following leading causes of injury:
- Assaults and violent acts (35%)
- Bodily reaction and exertion (15%)
- Car accidents (14%)
Does the age of the law enforcement officer affect the rate of workplace injuries?
Workplace injuries were highest among the youngest officers (21-24 years). The cause for high rates among the youngest officers warrants further investigation. Factors may include the types of assignments that younger officers are given, relative lack of training, or relative lack of experience.
The officers turned on their lights and sped up to follow the Volkswagen around the corner. Another driver, apparently disorientated by the erratic driving of the Volkswagen and the sudden lights of the police car, turned without signaling. The disoriented driver sideswiped the police car and pushed the police car into a light pole. Both officers suffered concussions from the sudden stop.
Do male and female officers have different injury rates?
Researchers found that male and female police officers had similar rates of nonfatal injuries. Male and female officers experience similar types of injuries on the job.
Are injury rates among law enforcement officers increasing or decreasing?
The rate of non-assault injuries among law enforcement officers has not increased in the last two decades. In contrast, the rate of assault-related injuries among police officers has increased markedly. A major study of police officers found that assault-related injuries increased almost 10% each year during the multi-year study.
Offenders under the influence of drugs and alcohol are more likely to assault police officers.
The officer’s family had seen him come home with scrapes, bruises, and black eyes, but this was the most serious injury he had experienced in the line of duty.
What kind of lawyer would be best qualified to help a law enforcement agent injured in the line of duty?
A worker’s compensation lawyer can answer questions about workplace injuries experienced by law enforcement officers. Look for a lawyer with experience in your type of injury–whether it is a Las Vegas traumatic brain injury attorney, car accident injury attorney, etc. For a free consultation about your unique situation, contact a worker’s compensation attorney near you. It’s time to move forward confidently after a workplace injury.