When snowstorms threaten travel on roads and highways in Iowa, drivers rely on local police and state highway patrolmen to respond quickly in an emergency. Although bad weather is dangerous for drivers, it can be even more treacherous for those who are required to act in it.
Drivers often ignore travel warnings, putting themselves and response teams in further harm. Approaching a vehicle presents a dangerous situation to an officer. In severe weather conditions, the unpredictability of other cars on the road can add external dangers to what might await an officer inside a car.
Four officers hurt in recent snowstorms
In 2016, 32 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty due to car accidents or being struck by a vehicle. Recent snowstorms in northern Iowa brought nearly one foot of snow to some places, which resulted in minor injuries to four law enforcement officers, according to KWWL. Safety officials recommend drivers slow down and clear the lane of traffic nearest to the officer.
However, careless or distracted drivers may be unable to respond, especially in bad weather when extra time is needed to react to hazards on the road. Police officers and state troopers may be unable to prevent these accidents, but they should know how to respond to increase chances of recovery and compensation for injuries.
Help is available for first responders
Although officers perform a unique and dangerous job, they still qualify for workers' compensation coverage under the law. Many states have specific laws for coverage of law enforcement officers hurt in the line of duty. Police unions may be able to educate local attorneys on state laws, but they likely cannot provide representation in a workers' compensation claim.
Officers may be well aware of criminal law, but unfamiliar with the law when it applies to workers' compensation process. Police and attorneys often work hand-in-hand in criminal investigations. Like an investigation after a crime, the process can be tedious.
A workers' compensation attorney will offer the same level of teamwork when an officer moves from the witness stand in a trial to the prosecutor's table as an injured party. Law enforcement personnel put their lives on the line to keep people safe, and a workers' compensation attorney will be there for officers when duty calls.