Night shifts put police officers at greater risk of injury

Personal Injury Law - Orzoff Law OfficesPolice officers in Chicago face a greater risk of injury than the general public, and research shows police officers are also more likely to experience health problems such as chronic diseases. However, these risks may not be distributed evenly. New research suggests officers who work the night shift are significantly more likely to sustain injuries.

A study of more than 400 law enforcement officers in New York found that, compared to day-shift officers, night-shift officers were three times more likely to suffer injuries requiring at least a 90 day leave. Altogether, one-tenth of night shift officers sustained such injuries over the course of the study. Since researchers controlled for factors such as age and gender, the findings suggest that the nature of night shift police work is responsible for the injury risk.

Unique job risks

Study researchers identified a few factors that make night shifts more dangerous for police officers. First, night shifts introduce more immediate physical threats. More crimes occur at night, and officers on duty often must respond to a greater number of calls or more dangerous situations. Additionally, like most shift workers, officers working overnight are often sleep-deprived or chronically fatigued. These states can increase the likelihood of accidental injury and impede an officer’s ability to make the right decision in a dangerous situation.

The stress and sleep deprivation associated with police night shifts can have harmful long-term effects, raising the risk of health problems such as inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Stress and fatigue may also raise the risk of psychiatric problems. Sadly, police officers are already at a high risk for psychological injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.

Claiming an injury

Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, police officers have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits for physical and psychological injuries. Physical injuries include traumatic and repetitive stress injuries. Psychological injuries are compensable if they result from physical injuries or specific traumatic events. Full-time police officers are additionally eligible for benefits under the Illinois Public Employee Disability Act. This law allows injured police officers to collect pay without losing sick days, vacation time or pension fund contributions.

Illinois observes no-fault workers’ compensation laws, which means benefits are awarded regardless of the employee or employer’s fault. However, fault does matter if an officer is injured due to the actions of a third party. When this happens, the officer may file a personal injury lawsuit against the third party in addition to a workers’ compensation claim. Any police officer injured under complicated circumstances can benefit from meeting with an attorney to discuss liability and means of obtaining appropriate compensation for the injury.

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