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A police officer was finishing his shift in 1953


A NYC police officer was finishing his shift in 1953. He opened the passenger door of the police car he was driving when he got to the precinct and was removing his shotgun from the car when it suddenly fired. It wounded him and he needed an operation to remove the bullet which had lodged in his abdomen.

He eventually recovered after treatment. He received compensation from the Workmen’s Compensation Board for his loss of earnings during the time of his confinement, treatment and recovery from the gunshot wound. The case was closed in 1957 when the physicians who treated him declared that there was no more disability flowing from the gunshot accident.

Nine years later, in 1962, as he was riding in his police car, he figured in a motor vehicle accident. He sustained injury to his neck and spine. The police officer was paid his salary for the several weeks of his confinement, treatment and recovery from the automobile accident. The police officer sued the owner and driver of the motor vehicle that had caused his spinal injury and the case was settled by them and compensation was duly paid for his spinal injury.

In 1965, the police officer was relieved of his duties at the police precinct. He went on sick leave and he did not work. He then claimed Workmen’s Compensation for his permanent and total disability resulting from the Westchester automobile accident in 1962.

The attending physician reported that the police officer had constant pain in his right side, from the lower spine down to the right leg and often radiating to the left leg. The physician advised confinement in the hospital for x-rays and for further treatment. The Workmen’s Compensation Board reopened the 1953 accident investigation.

Months later, the police officer was admitted into the hospital where he was placed in traction. He was operated on because the doctors suspected that the 1953 gunshot accident contributed and exacerbated the spinal injury he sustained. He was fitted with a spinal brace and discharged after a month.

The police officer went back to work and he was given desk duty for which he got paid his usual wages in full. The Workmen’s Compensation Board issued a ruling that when the police officer was reassigned to desk duty, he was already receiving full pay for his disability.

The police officer applied for desk duty because he could not stand being outside in the cold as it made his pain worse. He was advised that because he was paid his full salary even if he was only confined to desk duty, he was already receiving an advance payment of his compensation for his disability.

The police officer appealed this finding of the Workmen’s Compensation Board. It was his contention that the full wages he obtained cannot be considered as an advance on his disability compensation because his wages were paid to him for services rendered.

The only question before the Court is whether or not his wages can be considered an advance on his disability compensation.

The Court held that the police officer’s reassignment to desk duty is a common practice and this does not diminish the amount of salary he should receive. The wages he received were for services rendered by him. There is no evidence that light duty was given only to police officers who are suffering from a disability. There is no evidence that the salary paid to him was a gratuity.

The Board’s finding that the salary he received was an advance payment of his disability compensation is reversed.

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