New Bills Aid Injured Peace Officers and Families of Workers Killed on the Job
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 2015
JUNEAU – Today, Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) introduced two bills to fill gaps in assistance to peace officers and other workers injured on the job, and to give just compensation to families of workers who are killed while working.
Presently, when a first responder is injured and recovering in the hospital or at home, even from grievous and life-threatening injuries, he or she receives nothing toward accrued retirement benefits. Under House Bill 113, peace officers and firefighters who are unable to work while recovering from job injuries will continue to earn credit and contributions toward their retirement.
“Peace officers and firefighters put themselves at risk to protect the rest of us, and we have a special duty to take care of them when they are hurt,” said Rep. Josephson. “They should not be penalized by delaying their retirement because they are recovering and unable to work.”
House Bill 114 addresses an injustice that came to light when Abigail Caudle, a twenty-six year-old electrical worker, was killed on the job in 2011. Because Ms. Caudle was unmarried and had no dependents, the workers’ compensation system paid only for her funeral expenses. Under current law, single workers are unable to sue for their injuries, nor do their estates receive any posthumous compensation. In this way, the state appears to value the lives of single individuals less than those with dependents. HB 114 corrects this. When a worker dies without a spouse or minor children, relatives who depended on that worker for support or the worker’s estate will receive a respectful amount of compensation. Children of single parents will continue to receive monthly benefits for five years after they become adults as defined by the law. The legislation also increases and inflation-proofs compensation for permanent disability, which has not been adjusted for inflation since 2002.