Local paper and TV reports noted that a purported drunk driver struck a Howard County Police officer yesterday when the officer was stopped on the shoulder of the road with his emergency lights on to assist another officer from Takoma Park who had struck a deer. The accident happened near the Howard-Montgomery County line near Burtonsville, MD. Luckily he did not sustained life-threatening injuries.
These type of accidents involving first responders seem to happen all too often on our local roads, whether in the Metro area or in less populated areas such as Easton, Berlin, Prince Frederick or on the wayto Ocean City. Just in early March another Howard County officer was struck while in Laurel and the person fled the scene. In Temple HIlls an officer was struck by an SUV which later caused a fatal accident after fleeing.
Luckily police and other first responders have two avenues to pursue with regard to injuries sustained in such accidents. First there is the workers' compensation claim to be made as the officer was working at the time of the accident for medical care, temporary total disabiilty and permanency benefits. Secondly, there is a claim to be made against the at-fault driver for the injuries sustained, medical bills, future medical care, lost wages and pain and suffering in addition to other damages. Of course there is a statutory lien held by the employer for any workers compensation benefits paid if such a recovery is made.
Although not relevant here Public Safety employees are entitled to a presumption that certain illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension and lung disease are occupational diseases suffered in the line of duty. Injuries for repetitive trauma or overuse are also covered as occupational diseases.
Keep an eye out for our local police and first responders and move over to the next lane if available!