Two sheriff deputies were killed while on the job in Kansas City when the prison inmates they were transporting attacked them. The incident highlights the differences in workers’ compensation schemes of different stats, and how those differences impact real-life situations and the lives of real people.
Two Deputies Killed in the Line of Duty
The incident happened in Kansas City, Kansas. Two sheriff deputies from the police department in Wyandotte County were transporting inmates to the Kansas City courthouse. After they pulled into the courthouse’s parking lot just before noon, one of the inmates they were driving attacked and overpowered them.
According to initial reports, both deputies were shot, likely with their own guns. Both deputies were rushed to area hospitals, where they later died.
A suspect was also shot and brought to the hospital.
Workers’ Compensation Programs in Kansas and Missouri
Kansas City is one of a small number of American cities that straddles state lines. In this case, the incident happened on the Kansas side of the border, and involved members of a Kansas police force. However, it is far from a stretch of the imagination to compare it to a similar situation which could happen on the Missouri side, with Missouri officers.
Kansas Death Benefits for Law Enforcement Officers
In Kansas, workers’ compensation will step in to help the spouses and dependents of law enforcement officers who die while on duty.
Every week, spouses and dependents share payments equal to two-thirds of the fallen officer’s weekly wage, up to a maximum total of $300,000 or until there are no eligible recipients. $40,000 is disbursed immediately in a lump sum. If the officer had no spouse or children, $25,000 gets divided among his or her legal heirs.
Spouses who marry lose their eligibility for weekly payments, but also receive 100 weeks worth of payments in a lump sum when they remarry.
Children lose eligibility when they turn 18 unless they are physically or mentally disabled, or when they are 23 if they are full-time students.
Death benefits also include up to $5,000 in burial expenses and cover the hospital and medical expenses incurred by the fallen officer.
Missouri Survivor Benefits for Law Enforcement Officers
In Missouri, the differences are small but important.
Every week, survivors—defined as spouses or dependent children of the fallen officer—share two-thirds of the officer’s weekly wage, as determined by his or her weekly wage for the year before the accident, up to a certain amount. Currently, that ceiling is around $900 per week.
Spouses remain eligible for these weekly payments until they remarry, at which time they receive a lump sum of two years of benefits.
Children under 18 are eligible, as well. Full-time students can receive benefits until they turn 22, while children who are physically or mentally incapacitated from wage earning can receive benefits for life.
When the officer died in the line of duty—as these sheriff deputies did—their spouses and dependents receive an additional $25,000 lump sum.
Finally, funeral services up to $5,000 are provided.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
As you can see, the differences between the states are not inconsequential, and can drastically impact what you stand to receive if a loved one suffers a fatal injury while at work.
The personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph, Missouri know this, and fight for your interests to get what you need and deserve. Contact us online or call us at (816) 875-9373.