Premier Workers' Compensation And
Personal Injury Representation

What’s the “duty belt presumption” in workers’ comp?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2024 | Police/fire Work Injuries |

Public safety officers are always facing dangerous conditions and certain physical risks – it’s just part of the job.

With that in mind, California affords certain public safety officers special presumptions when it comes to work-related injuries. One of these is the duty belt presumption.

It eliminates the need for an officer to connect their work to certain injuries

Essentially, the duty belt presumption is simply a recognition that police officers of all kinds are required to carry a number of “tools of the trade” around with them, most of which are affixed to the duty belts they wear around their hips.

Those belts can be heavy, and that weight can put a significant strain on a worker’s lower back. Under the law, if an officer has been a full-time, salaried employee for at least five years and required to wear a duty belt during that time, any lower back impairments suffered by the officer are automatically presumed to arise from their employment.

That “flips the script,” and means that the employer or their insurer would have to prove that the worker’s injury was somehow not related to their job to deny their claim. This is a rebuttable presumption, however, so evidence that the officer hurt their back doing something outside of work can be fatal to the officer’s claim.

The duty belt presumption is somewhat unique in workers’ compensation law – and workers’ comp can generally be a difficult process to navigate even when there aren’t unusual issues at play. When you’re a public safety officer who has suffered injuries that you believe can be tied back to your work activities, obtaining legal guidance that’s specific to your situation can help you get your claim approved and protect your rights.

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