As many of you know, recent laws in Minnesota have made it much easier for certain workers to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for claims involving COVID-19. We have talked about this in numerous previous blog posts, but the important thing to know here is that certain workers are given a legal presumption of having contracted COVID at work, whereas most workers’ compensation claims require proof that the injury or illness was acquired at work.
The question for many people is: Do I qualify for this presumption? The list of types of workers who qualify is quite simple on the surface, but there are nuances that make it more complicated than it seems. One area where people might be pleasantly surprised is the category of “peace officers.”
What is a “peace officer”?
When we think of peace officers, most of us think of police and emergency law enforcement. However, the definition in the Minnesota Statutes seems much broader than that.
The FAQ about the new law, issued by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, lists “a licensed peace officer under Minnesota Statutes, section 626.84, subdivision 1, a firefighter, a paramedic or an emergency medical technician.”
For the definition of peace officer, the FAQ points to Minnesota Statues 626.84, subdivision 1.
A broad definition
This statute provides a surprisingly broad definition of a peace officer. Of course, it includes police officers, but it also includes:
[A]n employee or an elected or appointed official of a political subdivision or law enforcement agency who is licensed by the board, charged with the prevention and detection of crime and the enforcement of the general criminal laws of the state and who has the full power of arrest, and shall also include the Minnesota State Patrol, agents of the Division of Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement, state conservation officers, Metropolitan Transit police officers, Department of Corrections Fugitive Apprehension Unit officers, and Department of Commerce Fraud Bureau Unit officers, and the statewide coordinator of the Violent Crime Coordinating Council; and
Even those involved in detecting commerce fraud and state conservation officers are considered peace officers under this definition.
Further, native American tribal officers, part-time peace officers (even those serving voluntarily) and reserve officers are included.
This is very good news for those who qualify. If you have any question about whether you would be included in this new Minnesota workers’ compensation law, you should seek legal counsel from an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Someone who has knowledge and experience in this system can help you determining if you would qualify and can protect your rights throughout the process.