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. 


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