Commonwealth Offers Injured Corrections Officers Injury Buyouts

Greg Boles
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Partner at The Boles Firm | Experience Matters

Corrections officers injured by inmates are being offered buyouts by the Commonwealth.  The Department of Corrections is presently trying to settle claims by corrections officers who have been injured as a result of an act of an inmate. 

The Commonwealth is offering packages that include 2 years of the employee's salary, and 3 years of workers' compensation benefits paid biweekly.  Employees are required to resign their employment, but would thereafter be permitted to collect his or her pension and cash out any leave payout, which in some cases may be substantial.

Under Pennsylvania law, "any employee of a state penal or correctional institution … who is injured during the course of his employment by an act of any inmate or any person confined in such institute … shall be paid, by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, his full salary, until the disability arising therefrom no longer prevents his return as an employee of such department, board or institution at a salary equal to that earned by him at the time of his injury."  61 P.S. § 951. This extremely generous disability provision, commonly referred to as Act 632, was enacted to attract people to work in the dangerous environment of a correctional institution. 

Whether it makes sense to resolve these claims is open to question.  There are some situations in which the Commonwealth denies that the injured employee has in fact been injured by an act of an inmate.  There are other situations in which the employee's injuries are lacking the kind of substantial proof that would withstand either an administrative challenge or a challenge before a Workers' Compensation Judge. For employees injured unequivocally as a result of an act of an inmate (an assault, for example), resulting in serious injuries and permanent disability, it probably makes no sense to settle their claims.

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