Workers' comp struggles put former officer in financial ruin
November 30, 2017 10:24 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- In the blink of an eye, former Albuquerque police officer Lou Golson's life was shattered. He's lucky to be alive after Christopher Cook shot him during a DWI stop in 2015.
Two years later, Golson says it would have been easier to die and his family is financially ruined. He said on Thursday that after taking four bullets in the line of duty, the City of Albuquerque offered him just $20 a year to cover his life-long medical expenses from that shooting.
"Being with the city nearly 33 years, throughout your entire career, you're told you know if you're injured in the line of duty you'll be taken care of," he said.
On Jan. 3, 2015, Golson was shot four times at point-blank range. But Golson's fight for survival in those early hours was just the beginning of an excruciating workers compensation battle. Golson said an adjuster refused to approve procedures he needed because of their costs, delaying care and prolonging time away from work.
It went on for years with workers comp becoming increasingly suspicious Golson was gaming the system with claims despite the clear evidence of his serious injuries. Finally, he said his adjuster made a comment he'll never forget.
"'Heh, you're not hurt. You're just old,'" Golson recalled.
Golson said bills he expected to be covered were denied.
"I let the collections people keep calling," he said. "I never paid them, so as a result my credit was destroyed."
Nearly three years since the shooting, Golson cannot get a loan. He said his family is financially ruined.
"It's honestly pathetic that an officer who is willing to give his life -- or she -- who is hurt, devastatingly hurt, has to go through so much mental pain and agony dealing with a government that doesn't care about them," Golson said.
"And in my case, for my family's sake, it probably should have been deadly," he continued. "They would be financially better off if I had died. But I didn't, and that's pathetic."
Workers comp is the department that decides how much Golson gets from the city. A spokeswoman said they cannot comment on his case, but she said payouts are calculated by a formula based on the employee's salary.
By agreeing to receive workers comp benefits, employees also give up their right to sue. Golson said he hopes lawmakers will consider changing the way the system works, especially for law enforcement.
Updated: November 30, 2017 10:24 PM
Created: November 30, 2017 03:56 PM
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