Paralysed policeman Ryan Marron will seek millions of dollars in compensation from the State Government after contracting a mosquito-borne virus while stationed at a remote post in the Kimberley.
An ex gratia payment awarded to the constable could exceed the record $3.3 million paid to bashed police officer Matt Butcher last year.
Const. Marron suffered catastrophic injuries when he was bitten by a mosquito carrying Murray Valley encephalitis, which causes swelling in the brain, during a two-week stint in the Aboriginal community of Balgo in April last year.
The 30-year-old officer, who was left unable to walk, talk or care for himself, returns home to WA on Friday from six months of intensive rehabilitation in the US, which cost about $4000 a day.
WA Police Union president George Tilbury said the exact amount of the ex gratia payment claim the union would lodge with the Government on behalf of Const. Marron would be calculated in the next few months.
"As part of the application, experts in certain fields help assess the dollar amount of care and what it will cost in the future, medical specifics and housing requirements," he said. "It will be a full assessment of his lifestyle."
_The West Australian _ understands that it is likely to be a multimillion-dollar claim and exceed the amount awarded to Const. Butcher, who was partially paralysed after being headbutted in a brawl outside a Joondalup pub in February 2008.
Const. Marron's partner Toni Misitano said yesterday that the ex gratia payment was important considering the treatment and services he needed to progress to full health.
"It is important to have the funds to continue with the intensive treatment that has provided the huge gains achieved here at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago," she said.
"Our dream is to get back to the life we once had because it was perfect and we were very happy."
Const. Marron has improved his mobility, walking and strength but still cannot speak.
Mr Tilbury said the Government had indicated to the union that Const. Marron's claim would be viewed favourably.
A spokeswoman for Attorney-General Michael Mischin said the Government's $400,000 contribution towards Const. Marron's treatment in the US was a no-strings donation and would not affect an ex gratia payment claim.
Shadow attorney-general John Quigley said Const. Marron should be compensated generously for his injuries as if he were being awarded common law damages, "which is north of $3 million".
"He was in this situation, not as a tourist, but there in this remote location doing his duty serving the people of WA," he said.