Montgomery Al police officer injured off duty fights for benefits www.privateofficer.com
Montgomery AL Oct 30 2010 Mayor Todd Strange said Wednesday that the city simply is not able to grant workers’ compensation benefits to the family of injured police Cpl. David Brown.
The family filed a lawsuit against the city Tuesday seeking the benefits for the officer, who was critically injured when his motorcycle was hit by a car while he was escorting a funeral procession Sept. 11. Afterward, the ambulance carrying him turned over on the way to the hospital.
The lawsuit states that Brown’s duties that day were done “with permission, knowledge and approval of the City of Montgomery Police Department and were performed for the benefit of the department and citizens of Montgomery.”
Brown’s brother, Todd Brown, said Tuesday that the family wants the city to declare the police officer on-duty that day.
“We are hoping to get him the compensation he’s entitled to,” Todd Brown said.
Strange said that declaration is not possible because Brown was not working for the Police Department that day and had a private contract with the funeral home in which the city received no compensation. He said he would love to provide Brown and his family with workers’ compensation, but the city has to follow the law.
“I’d love to be able to say ‘yes’ (to the claim), but I don’t have that prerogative,” he said.
The lawsuit states that at the time of the accident Brown was earning $925 per week. It seeks “compensation and medical expenses and any other relief to which he is entitled under the workers’ compensation laws of the state of Alabama.”
Brown was using city equipment when the accident occurred, but Strange said that would not have an impact on the family’s claim. He said police officers take their equipment home with them in Montgomery, and state law allows for the use of police equipment while officers are working private, off-duty jobs.
The family’s attorney sent a letter to the city Sept. 30, asking for a review of its position regarding Brown’s workers’ compensation eligibility. The letter gave the city 10 days to respond. Brown’s brother said Tuesday that they had not heard back from the city since that time.
Strange said Wednesday he had not yet received a copy of the lawsuit, which was filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Joey Ammons, assistant general counsel with the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, specializes in workers’ compensation cases. He said the circuit judge has the exclusive discretion on whether to grant the workers’ compensation.
The lawsuit states Brown has suffered permanent disability, including “a broken jaw, cracked pallet, shaken baby syndrome, bleeding on the brain and multiple infections in his amputated limbs.” Since the accidents, he has undergone numerous operations, including the amputation of his right leg above the knee and his left arm above the elbow.
Brown was placed on medical disability retirement as of last week and will receive retirement benefits for the rest of his life, Strange said. The city also has paid for his additional leave time and all other available benefits are being extended to Brown, he said.
“We want to do everything conceivable under the law to help him,” Strange said.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service