New Mexico COA Decides Tribal Police Officer May Recover Worker’s Comp for Certain Off-Duty, Off-Reservation Activities

Here is the opinion in Schultz v. Pojoaque Tribal Police Dep’t. An excerpt:

In this workers’ compensation case, the issue before us is whether Officer Kevin Schultz’s accidental death arose out of and within the course of his employment with the Pueblo of Pojoaque Tribal Police Department (Employer). The workers’ compensation judge (WCJ) concluded that Officer Schultz’s death did not arise out of and in the course of his  employment because he was off-duty, outside his jurisdiction, and on a personal day trip near the Rio Grande at the time of the accident. Because of the unique nature of law enforcement duties, we conclude that law enforcement officers may recover workers’ compensation benefits in some instances for off-duty injuries occurring in response to circumstances reasonably calling for police officer assistance. Accordingly, because we also hold that there was a sufficient nexus between Officer Schultz’s actions in undertaking the rescue of a drowning child and the duties of his employment as a police officer, we reverse.