group of police officers in a subway station


The Nypost reports that there is an uptake of Police Officer injuries.  One of the causes for the increase in work injuries is the “use of force”.  
According to the data, the brave men and women of law enforcement are involved with unprecedented “use of force” activities due to the numerous protests across the country and on college campuses. In New York, the NY Police have suffered “7% more injuries while battling lawbreakers through the first quarter in 2024 (1,342-1,251).”  Tied to this is the data that ““Use of Force” stats further reveal a 20% rise in the number of violent encounters between cops and suspects overall — 2,590 so far this year compared to 2023.”  There are indications the bail reform has encouraged bad behavior by suspects.
This article will analyze this factual situation under California Workers’ Compensation Law. 

Is There Any Defense to A Use of Force Claim?

Yes.  Law Enforcement Officers are subject to traditional workers’ compensation rules.  One rule involves physical contact.  It is the initial aggressor rule which is a defense which can bar a claim.   Thus, if a Police Officer is determined to be the initial aggressor and is injured, it is possible that the claim could be barred.  Thus, Police Officers must act with caution when doing their duties.  For workers’ compensation purposes, It is very important that a Police Officer initiates physical conduct in accordance with the direction of a superior officer or department policy.  Absent those measures, any action should be in response to an act of physical aggression by a suspect would not be subject to the initial aggressor defense. Issues concerning initial aggressor rule are likely to be the subject of controversy as there is an increase These measures are extremely important in light of both body cameras operated by the officers as well as the many third-parties that are recording these clashes.

The basis for the initial aggressor defense is Labor Code Section 3600(a) (7).  It requires that a workers’ compensation case “does not arise out of an altercation in which the injured employee is the initial physical aggressor.”  As such, if the Police Officer was instructed to initiate the altercation by supervision, arguably they would not be the initial aggressor.  Arguably, their supervisor would be the initial aggressor.

What If I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information. 


group of police officers in a subway station


Breitbart reports that there is an epidemic of work-related injuries to Police Officers. It is reported that over 100,000 Police Officers have been attacked over the past two years.  Further, 194 officers have been feloniously killed.   According to the article, “[t]hat number of 79,000 law enforcement officers being physically assaulted in 2023 is a sharp, sharp increase from previous years,” Sutton told the outlet. “Many of these attacks wind up in disabling injuries or serious injuries, which can have dramatic effects on the life [and] on the mental and physical well-being of these law enforcement officers.”
This article will discuss the pertinent issues with respect to this matter with respect to California Workers’ Compensation Law.  

Do These Statistics Mean Anything Concerning An Individual Police Officer’s Work Injury?

No.  Every work injury is unique. One Police Officer comparing their work injury claim to another Police Officer, for the most part, is like comparing apples to oranges.  Each Police Officer’s claim of injury is different.  The results of work injury claims can be impacted by a multitude of facts.  These include the employee’s prior history of work injuries, their prior medical history, their age, and the multitude of body parts claimed.   Likewise, the nature and extent of injury to each particular body part is a factor.  Thus, it is very likely that two Police Officers involved in the same incident and suffering the same injuries would most likely would receive different percentages of disability. 

What If One of These Attacks Prevents A Police Officer From Returning to the Job?

If it is determined that a Police Officer’s injuries prevent them from returning to work in their usual and customary position, there is the option of disability retirement.  Disability Retirement is different from workers’ compensation.  It pays different benefits.  Further, it is administered by such agencies as CALPERS or LACERA.  The agencies administrating retirement claims have rules different from those of workers’ compensation.  

What If I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information. 

group of police officers in a subway station


In New York City, there is outrage within the Criminal Court System which is impacting two injured Police Officers. 
The following fact pattern illustrates the complicated nature of the work injuries. Two Police Officer were injured as a result of being attacked by Migrants.  Video of the incident went viral.  Following this, the Criminal Justice System’s inept handling of the Migrants’ prosecutions have made matters worse.  This story as well has become viral. The Criminal Justice System’s ineptness continued. A recent report noted that there is even “so called” outrage by the Judge handling the criminal matters. 
One of the accused Migrants, all who allegedly have been offered sweet-heart deals, is still making news.  While the assault case is still pending, this individual was arrested while out on bail.   The Judge expressed outrage “I am furious that Mr. Brito was rearrested and charged with petty larceny while he was out on this case.”  The reported that the Judge fumed as she warned that another slip up would land him behind bars. “I am very tempted right now to put you in jail. I am telling you right now, if I learn you are rearrested for anything at all between now and this case being finished, I will order a warrant and I will place bail so high, you will not get out,” she continued.
One must certainly believe that these two Police Officers are constantly being reminded of their trauma with each new courtroom drama from the matter.  This is the case along with the viral reporting from the matter.  Thus, an issue arising from these facts is as to whether the outrageous publicity surrounding the matter should also be subject matter for the work injury.
This fact pattern will be addressed within California law. 


Can Publicity from A Work Injury Cause A Work-Related Injury? 

In Workers’ Compensation, there were two types of injuries.  There are specific injuries and there are cumulative trauma injuries.   
In this instance, if the Police Officers are still working, they may be subjected to cumulative trauma.  The cumulative trauma, which could be causing stress or impacting the workers’ body systems- i.e. cardiovascular system, due to the stress, could be the result of people approaching them during work hours and reminding them about their work injury and the craziness that has transpired in the court system. Likewise, there may be some stress derived from their need to participate in the criminal prosecution of accused. 
Likewise, these two officers could encounter stress outside of work as a result of these incidents.  There are many newspapers, social media platforms and television news programs reporting on the matter.   Away from work, they may also be informed of the continuing problems on the legal cases.   
Thus, should this stress manifest into a psychiatric injury or a stress related internal medicine injury.  
The officers reading about the incident off of work, however, would not necessarily be considered as work related.   On a specific injury theory of the case, however, there is the argument that the further reminder of the incident would be considered as a compensable consequence of the underlying assault.  In essence, each time they are reminded of events surrounding the assault and prosecution, it rips off the healing emotional scar;  it is a reminder of the original incident.  As such, it relates back to the original injury. 
While lawyers can come up with theories as to the date of the injury, in the end, it would be a mental health doctor determining whether the publicity contributes to an emotional injury, causes an emotional injury, or exacerbated an emotional injury. With this, the injury can be properly adjudicated.  

What If I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information. 


highway patrol car

Fentanyl and Methamphetamine Overdose Claims Life of Washington Police Officer: Injured Workers in the News, #98

While working, a Police Officer- while at his precinct- collapsed and died from fentanyl and meth poisoning.  In the news reports, it is reported that the incident may not have been by accident.  According to the Dailymail, “Police in Vancouver, Washington, investigated Kelly’s death and concluded that it was ‘more likely than not caused by an intentional act and not an incidental workplace exposure,’”

This article will discuss the issue within the framework of California Workers’ Compensation Law with respect to this workplace death  and whether it was work-related.

If Someone Dies At the Workplace, Is It Automatically Considered As A Work-Related Death?

No.  Injuries in the workplace must be AOE/COE- arising out of employment and in the course and scope of employment.  While a death may occur during the course and scope of employment, i.e. while at the place of employment, there may be uncertainty as to whether it was caused by work.  In this instance, illicit drug use has been implicated as to the cause of death.

What Is The Standard For Proving a Death Is Work-Related?

The Cailfornia Supreme Court in  South Coast Framing, Inc. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (2015) 61 Cal.4th 291 [188 Cal.Rptr.3d 46, 349 P.3d 141], noted that “[w]e have recognized the contributing cause standard …Under this test, if the injury can be seen to have followed as a natural incident of the work and to have been contemplated by a reasonable person familiar with the whole situation as a result of the exposure occasioned by the nature of the employment, then it arises “out of” the employment. But it excludes an injury which cannot fairly be traced to the employment as a contributing proximate cause and which comes from a hazard to which the workman would be equally exposed apart from the employment.’””

In the instant matter, it is possible that an industrial contributing cause could be found.  It is possible that, as a law enforcement officer, there may be presumptions that could apply and assist in proving an industrial injury.   Thus,  this fact pattern is worthy of exploring  whether there was a valid industrial death claim.  Thus,  despite the allegation of illicit drug use and a statement from the department concerning it, there still may be a way of proving it as work-related.  For instance, the officer may have been suffering from an industrial orthopedic injury and decided to self-medicate by using an illegal drug.

What If I Need Legal Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 30 years. Contact us today for more information.

motorcycles cops in a parade

Was a Police Officer’s Motorcycle Fatality a Work-Related Injury? Injured Workers in the News, #94

A California Motorcycle Officer suffered a fatality in a highway crash.  The Manhattan Police Officer, who was recognized as a hero from the Las Vegas mass shooting,  was reportedly going to work when the accident happened.  This fact pattern raises the question as to whether someone injured while driving to work can claim a work injury and receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Per the Associated Press, it is reported that the Manhattan Beach Police Officer was likely heading to work when the collision happened shortly after 5 a.m. on Interstate 405 in Carson,

This article will discusses how this type of accident can be considered as an industrial event.

Can A Worker File A Workers’ Compensation Claim If They Got Hurt On Their Way To Or From Work?

While California Workers’ Compensation Law precludes recovery from injuries sustained during commutes, there are exceptions to the rule. Therefore, in these matters, a complete factual analysis is required.  Further, these cases are likely to be litigated.

The following is a discussion of the “going and coming” rule.  Per case law, “[t]the going and coming precludes [recovery under the Workers’ Compensation Act] for injury suffered during the course of a local commute to a fixed place of business at fixed hours in the absence of exceptional circumstances. (Hinojosa v. Workmen’s Comp. Appeals Bd. (1972) 8 Cal. 3d 150, 157 [37 Cal. Comp. Cases 734, 104 Cal. Rptr. 456, 501 P.2d 1176].) [] For purposes of the rule, the employment relationship does not begin until an employee enters the employer’s premises. Prior to entry the going and coming rule ordinarily precludes recovery after entry, injury is generally presumed compensable as arising in the course of employment. (Pacific Indem. Co. v. Industrial Acc. Com. (1946) 28 Cal. 2d 329, 336 [11 Cal. Comp. Cases 148, 170 P.2d 18] Cal. Cas. Ind. Exch. v. Ind. Acc. Com. (1943) 21 Cal. 2d 751, 755 [8 Cal. Comp. Cases 55, 135 P.2d 158]1 Larson, Workmen’s Compensation Law (1972) §§ 15.00–15.11, pp. 4–2—4–4.)” (General Ins. Co. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (1976) 16 Cal. 3d 595, 598 [41 Cal. Comp. Cases 162, 128 Cal. Rptr 417, 546 P.2d 1361].) The going and coming rule, however, is riddled with exceptions. (Hinojosa v. Workmen’s Comp. Appeals Bd. (1972) 8 Cal. 3d 150, 156 [37 Cal. Comp. Cases 734, 104 Cal. Rptr. 456, 501, P.2d 1176] Bramall v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (1978) 78 Cal. App. 3d 151, 156 [43 Cal. Comp. Cases 288, 143 Cal. Rptr. 105].)

One such exception to the going and coming rule is the “special mission” exception. Under this exception, “An injury suffered by an employee during his regular commute is compensable if he was also performing a special mission for his employer. (2 Hanna, [Cal. Law of Employee Injuries and Workmen’s Compensation (2d ed.)], § 9.03[3][iv], pp. 9–41—9–43.) The employee’s conduct is ‘special’ if it is ‘extraordinary in relation to routine duties, not outside the scope of employment.’ (Schreifer v. Industrial Acc. Com. (1964) 61 Cal. 2d 289, 295  [29 Cal. Comp. Cases 103, 38 Cal. Rptr. 352, 391 P.2d 832].) The special mission rule ‘is ordinarily held inapplicable when the only special component is the fact the employee began work earlier or quit work later than usual.’ (1 Larson, [Workmen’s Compensation Law], § 16.12, p. 4–98.)” (General Ins. Co. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd., supra, 16 Cal. 3d at p. 601.)

Another well recognized exception to the going and coming rule is the “special risk” exception. “If, prior  to entry upon the [employer’s] premises, an employee suffers injury from a special risk causally related to employment, the injury is compensable under the ‘special risk’ exception to the going and coming rule. ‘The facts that an accident happens upon a public road and that the danger is one to which the general public is likewise exposed, however, do not preclude the existence of a causal relationship between the accident and the employment if the danger is one to which the employee, by reason of and in connection with his employment, is subjected pecul[iar]ly or to an abnormal degree.’ (Freire v. Matson Navigation Co. (1941) 19 Cal. 2d 8, 12 [6 Cal. Comp. Cases 302 118 P.2d 809]1 Larson, supra, § 9.30, pp. 3–48—3–50).” (General Ins. Co. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd., supra, 16 Cal. 3d at p. 600.)”  Baroid vs. WCAB (1981) 46 C.C.C. 790.

With Respect to the “Going and Coming Rule”, Is The Analysis Different for Police Officers?

Yes. There is the case of Garzoli which addressed the extraordinary nature that can be involved in law enforcement.

The Supreme Court in  Garzoli vs. WCAB 35 Cal. Comp. Cases 193, dealt with case involving the following facts: “On June 6, 1968, he began his regular shift at 4 p.m. and “checked out” with the lieutenant or watch manager at midnight. He started home on his own motorcycle (which he did not use in his work), wearing his police uniform and carrying his pistol. A few minutes later, his motorcycle was struck by a negligently driven automobile, and he sustained severe injuries, which caused his death July 4, 1968.”  Further “There was evidence that …[the Officer]… was on call 24 hours a day; that he had been called many times to report for duty at a time other than his regular shift (such as when a riot was antipicated, or the lieutenant or watch manager had to be away, or for marksmanship practice); that the police department’s “Manual of Policies and Procedure” did not deal with the matter of a police officer’s norma going and coming between his home and the police station; and that although the manual provided that police officers were prohibited from engaging in law enforcement activities while off duty within the city except in cases or extreme emergency or when it appeared that someone’s life was in danger, such policy was not followed by the department, and off-duty officers were expected to render assistance in less serious situations.

In the latter respect, the chief of the police department testified: “If somebody was in need of help, and in a small community of our size where a policeman is known by just about every individual, and he refused to help—well, what would happen to him and what would happen to the police department as a whole? So as a consequence if somebody needed help, and irregardless of whether he had a weapon or not, I would censor [sic] them if they did not help these people.”  The chief further testified that there was no adequate place for a police officer to change from street clothes into his uniform, or vice versa, at the police station and that it was with his consent that an officer might wear his uniform and carry his pistol in going and coming between his home and the police station.”  There was additional information that was presented at trial that “the lieutenant or watch manager with whom the decedent had “checked out” at midnight when he left the station testified that it was with his knowledge and consent that the decedent wore his uniform, carried his pistol, and rode his motorcycle in going and coming between his home and the police station. He also testified that he had worked the same shift as the decedent that night; that he came upon the scene of the accident shortly after it occurred; and that he immediately “in [his] official capacity . . . administered first aid and questioned the persons standing there,” assisting fellow officers in apprehending the driver of the automobile involved in the accident (hit and run), and made an official report as an investigating officer.”  Further at trial, “there was also evidence that the decedent lived about a mile and a quarter or a mile and a half from the police station; that there was no public transportation available to him; that the only way he could go to work was to walk, drive his own vehicle, or hire a taxi; and that the city did not pay him any mileage.

In this case, the Supreme Court noted that “In the present case, the city did not require that the decedent furnish a vehicle of transportation on the job. From the testimony of the police chief, however, it is clear that, as a practical matter, the decedent was required to wear his official uniform to and from work and that, at least when so clothed, carrying his pistol, and traveling conspicuously in the public streets on a motorcycle on his way home immediately after completing his shift, he was expected  to render assistance to members of the public in the field of law enforcement, if needed.

Accordingly, it is a reasonable extension of the exception laid down in Smith to hold that under the circumstances here shown, the decedent was engaged “in conduct reasonably directed toward the fulfillment of his employer’s requirements, performed for the benefit and advantage of the employer,” as a result of which the going and coming exclusion is inapplicable.”” [emphasis added]

In sum, with respect to the recently deceased officer, his facts will be analyzed against the facts of the Garzoli case as well as the legal theories employed to create the exception to the going and coming rule.   From the news accounts, there seemed to be some question as to whether he in fact on his way to work.  This is a significant issue that requires clarification.    Likewise, there will be an investigation as to the necessity of wearing a uniform and weapon when driving a police motorcycle.  Further, there will be an investigation as to whether there was an expectation that this Officer was expected to render assistance to members of the public.  All of these factors, and others, will bring weight into the analysis.

What If I Need Legal Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 30 years. Contact us today for more information.


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