Q: Is a volunteer Deputy Sheriff covered for Workers’ Compensation? How about volunteer firefighters?

A: This is a fairly straightforward issue for firefighters. Each person registered as an active firefighting member of any regularly organized volunteer fire department having official recognition and full or partial support of the governing entity is an employee.

The answer for a volunteer Deputy Sheriff is not so clear without an “adoption of a resolution of the board of supervisors so declaring.” The term employee excludes any person holding an appointment as a deputy clerk or deputy sheriff who is appointed for his or her own convenience, and who receives no compensation.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, a volunteer member of a sheriff’s reserve will be deemed an employee for purposes of the workers’ compensation on the adoption of a resolution of the board of supervisors.

The above analysis appears to conflict with Labor Code section 3362.5 which says whenever any qualified person is deputized or appointed by the proper authority as a deputy sheriff and is assigned specific police functions, the person is an employee.

So to answer this question you must ask two questions:

  1. Did the Board of Supervisors ever adopt a resolution indicating the volunteer Deputy Sheriff is an employee?
  2. Was the person “deputized?”

Based on the lack of factual details, it does not appear that a volunteer Deputy Sherriff is automatically an employee, but I believe a government entity has “a Labor Code section 3362.5 issue” if a covered entity deputized or appointed a deputy sheriff and assigned him specific police functions.

Unfortunately there is no black and white answer to this general question without detailed case specific facts. However when met with this general fact pattern there is certainly a factual and legal issue as to whether an injured person is in fact covered by workers’ compensation in California. The strong likelihood is the answer would be yes in California, though coverage would not necessarily be definitive