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Tips for DV Call Injuries

Massachusetts Police Injury Attorneys
Legal Article - Tips for DV Call Injuries


During the past twenty years, I have represented numerous local police officers who have collected substantial compensation when injured in response to a Domestic Violence call. In my experience, this is one of the most predominant ways officers are injured on duty. The typical case involves a distressed parent, spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend calling 911 for assistance with an out-of-control child, spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend. Upon arrival, the officers frequently find the out-of-control person who needs to be removed from the home is heavily intoxicated on alcohol and/or drugs. Sometimes the subject suffers from one or more mental disorders and has failed to follow his or her medication regimen, resulting in a violent outburst and uncontrolled behavior. Whether the individual confronted by police is drunk, high on drugs, overdosing from drugs, in a drug withdrawal, or suffering from a mental health issue, he or she presents the officer with two distinct problems resulting in an increased risk of injury to the responding officer. First, the place of response is typically a limited space inside a home loaded with objects and conditions which make it difficult to restrain and get the subject under control. For example, during such struggles, we have represented officers who have fallen down a set of stairs, fallen into stoves and walls, and fallen onto glass coffee tables. The second problem in gaining control of the subject is that the subject often has a much higher threshold of pain due to their present condition. This makes it even more difficult for the officer to restrain the individual as normal physical tactics, even pepper spray, at times have little effect on the violent subject as they are impervious to the pain. It is not unusual for the subject to be outweighed by the officer and outnumbered by the responding officers. The injured officers frequently describe the smaller subject as almost a superman with strength and pain tolerance surprising to the officers.

We have represented officers injured during the restraint of such subjects. These officers have suffered injuries such as torn bicep tendons ripped from the arm during an attempt to restrain an intoxicated boyfriend; separated shoulder after being thrown up against the stove; ripped hand ligaments during the handcuffing attempt; ulnar nerve entrapment in the elbow (requiring surgery to move the nerve out of its natural tunnel) after having struck it on the floor in a fall; and fractured wrists and legs suffered during the take down of the subject. These officers all suffered physically and financially. Their financial suffering almost always exceeded the injury-on-duty benefits delivering base pay pursuant to Chapter 41, Section 111F. These officers often relied upon substantial income from working valuable details and overtime, which was then lost while out injured on duty and in some cases when they were returned to light duty status. Some officers have second jobs or businesses where they do landscaping, contracting and plowing and, because of their injuries, are not able to supplement their incomes through their side business.

We are often successful in gaining the lost compensation for these officers, as well as compensation for their physical suffering. Settlements have ranged anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000, with most officers returning to their careers. There is no guarantee on any given case, but I work on a contingency fee so the risk of hiring me is minimal to the injured officer. The contingency fee agreement specifies I am not due any compensation unless and until I collect money for the injured officer. If I fail to collect compensation, the injured officer owes me nothing for my services.

I have found that the following steps, if followed by the injured officer, can help to make a case successful:


Provide as much detail as possible about the subject’s indicia of intoxication. Describe his behavior and all outward manifestations as you would in a charge for operating under the influence. Describe the smell of alcohol, the irrational behavior, the glassy eyes, the unsteadiness on the feet, the distant gaze, the vulgarity, the loudness of speech, the irrational responses, the presence of empty containers of alcohol, etc. If possible, find out from others in the house what was ingested, in what quantities and when, and insert that information in the report.


If the person is exhibiting some type of irrational or out-of-control behavior that may be due to a mental health issue or failure to take medication, put those observations into your report. It may be that the family members tell you that the subject has a history of violence or other behaviors when the subject fails to take his/her medication or just occasionally exhibits these behaviors due to a mental health issue, such as depression. Putting this in your report can show that the subject did not have the capacity to form the intent to harm. It may also show that the subject was negligent in failing to take medications where the subject knows from past experience that he or she exhibits violent or irrational behaviors when failing to take their medication.

Besides just obtaining a residential address from official records or the Registry of Motor Vehicles, ask where the person has been living, with whom and for how long. Note in your reports who provided you this information and their relationship to the subject. This can greatly assist in proving residence status on insurance claims. On many cases the homeowner, sometimes the one who even called the police, later states the subject did not live there so as not to have a claim made against their own insurance policy. Residency of a relative or household member is a prerequisite to the insurance company providing coverage.

Consider the intent of the subject when making charges. Was there an intent to harm the officer or was the subject just being difficult; was the subject incapable of forming that intent due to intoxication, drug overdose, mental health condition or withdrawal from medication; or was the subject at the time of the struggle attempting to get away and resist arrest? When appropriate, the charge of resisting arrest may pave the way for an easier insurance claim. Insurance companies will routinely deny coverage if there is any evidence the subject had the intent to cause harm to the officer. It can be expected the insurance company will argue this based upon a charge of A&B PO which carries in it an element of intent to batter. If the intent to is to get away, then there is no element of an intent to harm, but rather an intent to get away.

Fill out an injured on duty report or refer to the fact of injury in the narrative, even if you do not intent to seek treatment and expect the condition to clear in short order. You never know which initial pain or injury will develop over time into one that is long-lasting and costly to you, both physically and financially.

Even if you do not intend to go out injured on duty or you expect the condition to resolve quickly, seek a medical evaluation to document the injury and, of course, to find out if there is a more extensive process than you at first believed. There have been numerous cases where no treatment was sought, no injury was reported and the injured officer was challenged not only by the insurance company on our case to prove he was injured during the subject arrest, but even the department challenged whether it was an injury which occurred on duty. Be advised there is no requirement that the injured officer miss work in order to make a successful third party claim for compensation.

I can be reached toll free at 800-245-2052 or by email. It costs nothing to speak to me and there is never an obligation to go forward. At the very least it will be valuable to you to learn what your rights are and my estimate of the chances of success. It also may be a case where my early involvement helps to secure valuable information to prove liability, residence of the subject and other information which will help secure insurance coverage for a potential claim.

An injured officer should always consider seeking a free consultation to determine his or her rights, benefits, and the probability of making a successful claim. I am always available by telephone, email or a personal meeting. Once I evaluate the case and the officer’s chances of success, the decision whether to go forward rests with the officer. The decision when to return to work rests, as it should, with the officer and his or her doctor.

As with all claims involving an officer's injury on duty, there are no guarantees. Many police injury cases involve sophisticated legal issues, problems of proof, technical insurance policy coverage disputes, and issues that arise under Massachusetts General Laws c. 41, §100 and §111F. When we work on these cases, we work on a contingent fee basis. That means the injured officer pays nothing up front and while the case is pending. He or she only need pay for legal services and expenses at the end of the case, if we successfully collect money on the claim. We typically will receive one-third of the money collected. In the off-chance we are unable to collect money for the injured officer; the officer owes nothing for our legal services.

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