It probably comes as no surprise to learn that being a police officer comes with some significant occupational risks. In this podcast, Bourke Legal’s Associate, Melissa Arndell talks about the nature of injuries typically sustained by police officers on duty and of course, compensational options that may be available.
Dan: It probably comes at no surprise to learn that being a police officer comes with some significant occupational risks. In today’s podcast, I’m talking with Melissa Arndell from Bourke Legal about the nature of injuries typically sustained, and of course, compensation options that may be available. Mel, we’ve spoken before about police officers and the sheer number of physical injuries that they can obtain from doing the job that they do. What kind of injuries are the most common?
Melissa: You’re right, Dan, police officers do one of the hardest jobs around. They put their bodies on the line day after day, year after year. Physical injuries are unfortunately an occupational hazard, and I have heard about them all. Scarring, bad shoulders, dodgy knees, sore backs, unstable ankles, even some more unusual ones like Ross River fever and cardiac injuries. If it’s a body part that can be injured, I’ve likely assisted a police officer bring a claim for an injury to that body part.
Dan: So, what should a police officer do when they’ve sustained a physical injury?
Melissa: They should remember one thing, P902. I know that many police officers don’t want to lodge a P902, an injury notification, every time they suffer a physical injury, but it is important. You never know what injury you sustain that might start off small but could turn into something significant.
Dan: So, Mel, for the listeners that want some real context, real life context, I suppose, can you give some examples?
Melissa: Sure, Dan. Orthopaedic injuries are a good example. You might have been involved in a bad wrestle, your knee has slammed into the ground, or your shoulder has been wrenched as you’ve struggled to handcuff an offender, or you’ve jumped over a fence on a foot pursuit and your ankles have borne the brunt of your weight as you’ve hit the ground. That one event might not be enough to cause injury, but it might get the ball rolling, as the song goes, from little things, big things grow. That knee, shoulder or ankle might worsen over the months and years to come. A niggle might become a real pain.
You might need to have some treatment, and if you put in a P902, it’s likely that treatment will be paid for by EML. It’s incredible how many police officers pay for their own physio, chiro or massage because they haven’t put in that P902 notifying EML, the police workers’ compensation insurer of their injury. That is one of the functions of the workers’ compensation scheme for police officers to ensure your medical expenses arising from injuries you’ve sustained on the job are paid for. Perhaps the classic example is a back injury. The vast majority of police officers I speak to have some form of back injury because of their appointment belt. Wearing it constantly in police vehicles and at your desk means you’re in a twisted position for hours on end.
This can cause changes to your posture and gait and cause some underlying pathology to develop in your lower back. Again, you should lodge a P902 as soon as you notice your back is not quite right, as it puts the police on notice of the potential injury. At first, you might just notify EML and no treatment is required. If your back deteriorates, you might put in another P902. Down the track, you might request some physio. Later again, your GP might suggest you need an MRI or a referral to a specialist, and if it gets really bad, injections or surgery might be on the cards. There is a much greater chance of EML paying for this more significant treatment if there is a documented history of your injury.
Dan: Are there any other reasons why it’s helpful to keep notifying the police about the physical injuries that you may have sustained?
Melissa: Yes, as well as treatment. A record of P902’s assist if you wish to bring a claim for whole person impairment compensation, also known as Section 66 or lump sum compensation arising from an injury. As well as proving you have some permanent impairment arising from your injury, EML needs to be satisfied that you have sustained the injury in the course of your employment. If there is a record of P902s, attendances upon your GP and claims for treatment, it makes it much harder for EML to argue you didn’t sustain this injury at work or that it is not significant enough to attract some tax free compensation.
Dan: You mentioned scarring at the outset, Mel. Why would a police officer put in a P902 for something as small as that?
Melissa: Although scarring may not deteriorate like the other examples we’ve spoken about, a visible scar from a cut, a graze or a bite will still attract a payment of one percent whole person impairment, which is worth about $1300 in lump sum compensation. You don’t know how lacerations will heal, so I suggest lodging a P902 just as you might lodge a P902 for an exposure when you don’t know if it will turn into anything. You can’t really be certain of the outcome for any physical injuries, so your best bet is to err on the side of caution and lodge that P902.
Dan: Mel, what about police officers that think it’s too late for me? I haven’t lodged any P902s.
Melissa: Good question, Dan. Although notifying the police of each physical injury is best practice, we can still attempt to obtain payments of compensation and medical expenses if you haven’t notified the police of your physical injuries at the time. Jump on our website at www.bourkelegal.com, and complete our claims checker, and we’ll get in touch with you ASAP.
Dan: Mel, if police officers or family members are listening to this podcast and they’ve got further questions, they can reach out to you at Bourke Legal?
Melissa: Definitely, Dan. Best spot is that claims checker on our website, www.bourkelegal.com, as it contains all of the information we need to then be able to contact you and advise you about your specific circumstances.
Thanks for listening. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Bourke Legal on 1300 026 875.