North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Policymakers have Close Eye on Case of Chimp Shooter

March 4, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina workers’ compensation policy experts are keeping a close eye on a developing workers’ comp case out of Connecticut involving police officer Frank Chiafari, who shot and killed a chimpanzee who had ripped the face off of a local Stanford woman last year.

The attack on the woman, Charla Nash, provoked a firestorm of media coverage last February. Officer Chiafari had been called into deal with the emergency attack. He entered the melee and saw the woman’s mutilated face. The chimpanzee then attacked him. He drew his gun and shot it fatally. Traumatized by the incident, Officer Chiafari put in a workers’ compensation claim, which was denied in just five days.

The disgruntled officer recently testified before Connecticut lawmakers about how important it is to provide workers’ compensation to cover therapy for cases like his. The officer claimed that he suffered post traumatic stress disorder from the incident: he hallucinated that he saw women without faces, for instance.

How might officer Chiafari’s testimony impact North Carolina workers’ compensation policy?

At this point, it’s unclear. The chimpanzee shooting case was obviously quite one-of-a-kind. In other cases, in which an officer might be required to shoot a feral animal, for instance, would it be appropriate for the state to have to pay workers’ comp for counseling or therapy? Obviously, if an officer is forced to shoot and kill a human assailant, therapy benefits would no doubt be provided. But when you are dealing with an animal assailant? Should similar standards apply?

If the bill advocated by Officer Chiafari and others passes the Connecticut Legislature, other states may or may not follow suit and pass similar kinds of legislation. However, as we just mentioned, given the odd nature of this case, it seems unlikely that the bill will provoke a rapid state-by-state change in the law. Although when it comes to North Carolina workers’ compensation policy, you never know.

If you or a family member or a friend is having trouble securing workers’ comp benefits, or if you have questions about North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance coverage, please connect ASAP with a knowledgeable NC workers’ comp attorney.

More Web Resources:

Charla Nash

Officer Frank Chiafari


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