A previous post on this blog from several months ago talked about a pending Florida measure that affected workers’ compensation for those who put their lives and health on the line to respond to fires, serious accidents and the like.
For any of its shortcomings, this measure, which became law, did make it possible for these first responders to receive workers’ compensation benefits for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
Prior to the passage of this law, it would have been very hard for a first responder to get workers’ compensation benefits, even with the help of attorneys, because the law specifically stated that mental health injuries, standing alone, did not qualify a worker for benefits under Florida law. They had to have some sort of physical illness or injury.
Although Florida’s law only applies to first responders, as the law defines that term, it is part of a growing trend in the world of workers’ compensation to recognize that PTSD is not just something that soldiers suffer. Any worker can be exposed to a trauma or a series of traumas; in fact, over half of all Americans will experience an event in their lives that could trigger PTSD.
Moreover, there are many workers, like first responders and law enforcement officers, who are likely to witness a traumatic event since dealing with trauma is part of their job.
West Palm Beach residents, particularly workers who have experienced injuries or illnesses because of their work, should continue to monitor further legal developments on this important topic. In the interim, those who have suffered damage to their mental health on account of their work should at least seek advice about whether a workers’ compensation claim might be a possibility in their circumstances.