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Partner Jay Johnson is a recognized Illinois LEADING LAWYER and Client Distinction Award winner.


Attorney Jay Johnson was honored to speak at the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Steward Training on May 23, 2019 in Springfield, Illinois. Members received information regarding issues unique to law enforcement work-related injuries. Discussion included the benefits provided by the Public Employees Disability Act and the Public Safety Employees Benefit Act, and how these statutes interact with workers' compensation. Jay also discussed general workers' compensation information that every employee needs to know.


Public Employee Disability Act

Posted on in First Responders

What is the Public Employee Disability Act (PEDA)?

In Illinois, if you sustain a work-related injury, you are entitled to two-thirds (2/3) of your pay while you are off work as a result of the work injury. This benefit is calculated in accordance with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act and is called temporary total disability benefits. However, there are certain employees in Illinois who are entitled to more than the two-thirds benefit rate under the Workers' Compensation Act.

Pursuant to the Public Employee Disability Act (5 ILCS 345/1), there are certain employees who are entitled to 100% of their pay if they sustain an injury on the job. This is typically referred to as PEDA, not to be confused with PETA.

Who is entitled to PEDA benefits?

  • Any full-time law enforcement officer;
  • Any full-time firefighter;
  • Corrections officers;
  • Any full or part-time employee of the Department of Human Services; and
  • Any full or part-time employee in state-operated mental health facilities.

If the employee qualifies for benefits under PEDA, the employer cannot deduct sick leave credits, vacation days, or compensatory time for overtime accumulations. Additionally, the employee continues to accrue service credits in a public employee pension fund, if applicable. Unfortunately, Chicago police officers and firefighters are specifically excluded from receiving PEDA benefits.


Everyone knows that many jobs do not fall into the "9-5" category. Our firm successfully represented a police officer who suffered a work related injury in his own garage. We were able to show that even though the officer was not at the police station or on patrol at the time of the accident, his injuries at home were a result of his employment and was covered under the Workers' Compensation Act.

Injured workers must show that the accident they suffered "arose out of" and was "in the course of" their employment. For an injury to "arise out of" employment, its origins must be in some risk connected with or incidental to the employment. For an injury to be "in the course of" employment, it must occur within a period of employment, at a place where workers may reasonably be in the performance of their duties, and while they are fulfilling those duties or engaged in something incidental to those duties. In short, "in the course of" refers to the time, place, and circumstances of the injury. In many situations, this burden is not difficult to prove.

At other times, however, the circumstances of the accident are more complex. This was the case for the injured police officer. The officer maintained a duty bag as party of his job. The office kept his helmet, gas masks, legal codes, ammunition, handcuffs, firearm, metal baton, and a flashlight in the duty bag. This bag weighed approximately 40 pounds. The officer kept the bag with him at all times for safekeeping. He would keep the bag in his garage when he was not on duty. The department allowed all officers to keep their duty bag with them when they were not on duty.


A Will County jury recently awarded a firefighter and his wife 4.7 million dollars for injuries and disabilities arising out of a local surgeon's failure to promptly treat his spine condition. Former Naperville firefighter Paul Zurawski sustained on-the-job injuries while working March 6, 2008. He sought treatment from Dr. Jason Franklin of Rezin Orthopedics in Joliet.

Firefighter Zurawski complained from the outset of not only back pain but weakness and radiating pain into his legs. Weakness and radiating pain are frequently signs that a back condition is more serious than a simple strain/sprain or pulled muscle. Indeed, that weakness and radiation of pain frequently stems from a herniated disc compressing and compromising a nerve root. That was the case here.

Despite these troubling symptoms, Dr. Franklin did not review Mr. Zurawski's actual MRI films but rather treated the firefighter with physical therapy and epidural steroid injections. Zurawski sought a second opinion from another orthopedic surgeon who reviewed the actual films, diagnosed the firefighter as suffering with "a very large L5-S1 right-sided disc herniation with significant…compression" and recommended "urgent" spinal surgery. The firefighter underwent surgery later.


PEDA for Injured Police Officers and Other First Responders

First responders face daily threats of injury that most of us never do. They are entitled to the same rights to receive medical treatment and compensation for permanent injuries as are the rest of us for their work related injuries. Illinois Public Employees Disability Act (PEDA) gives first responders and certain other public employees, such as corrections officers and certain State hospital employees, additional protection when it comes to compensation for lost wages caused by work accidents.

The PEDA mandates that such injured first responders receive 100% of their salary, tax free, for up to one year. If such injured employees are disabled for more than one year, they are entitled to receive TTD benefits, just like the rest of us, as long as they are temporarily totally disabled as a result of a work injury.

In addition to the special wage protection, PEDA also mandates that such workers cannot lose their sick time, vacation time, or service credits to their pension plan.

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