The Minneapolis City Council has approved workers’ compensation claims submitted by nine police officers who suffered injuries while on duty during 2020. The council’s Policy and Government Oversight Committee voted to allocate $1.6 million to cover the claims on Sept. 9. The council had previously approved spending $2.7 million to settle 16 workers compensation claims filed by other police officers who were injured in on-the-job accidents in 2020. However, experts predict that the council will have to spend considerably more to deal with the hundreds of claims still pending.
Surge in police officer injuries
The sudden increase in Minneapolis police officer workers’ compensation claims is largely the result of injuries suffered in the last seven months of 2020 when cities across the country were rocked by protests that sometimes turned violent. The number of police officers filing workers compensation claims in Minneapolis rose from 439 in 2019 to 740 in 2020, and injuries suffered during the second half of the year account for the bulk of that 69% increase. An attorney who represents many of the police officers involved says that most of the claims are linked to incidents that caused either post-traumatic stress disorder or a disability.
Finding the money
The city has so far paid an average of $169,000 to settle police officer workers’ compensation claims, but that figure could rise to more than $30 million by the time all of the claims are resolved. This is a cost that will ultimately be borne by the city’s taxpayers as Minneapolis is self-insured. Taxpayers will also foot the bill for the $1.8 million the city has allocated to outsource its workers’ compensation litigation workload for the next three years. That figure was recently increased by $600,000 because of the soaring number of cases.
Personal injury lawsuits
In some cases, police officers may be able to file civil lawsuits against the individuals who injured them as well as workers’ compensation claims. This is because the workers’ compensation program was put into place to shield employers from lawsuits and ensure that injured workers are able to make ends meet, but it does not protect third parties.