Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that comes after somebody goes through a traumatic life event. Many soldiers experience it after deployment, but it's a human ailment that affects all types of work. Firefighters, police officers and emergency room nurses are just a few of the many first responders who experience troubling situations in the line of work. Coming upon a crime scene or the site of an accident can have lasting effects.
While many first responders encounter this in their line of work, workers' compensation in Minnesota, as it stands today, only covers PTSD when certain conditions apply. As we discussed earlier, the state requires that there must be a physical component to the traumatic situation. There are efforts in the state to have PTSD considered presumptive work-related injury for first responders, but it has yet to pass legislation. Looking nationally, there are signs that more workers' compensation rights are coming.
A new law in Florida
Even though workers' compensation exists in all 50 states, each state has unique laws that define it. Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a new law that allows Florida first responders to receive lost wage coverage for PTSD. Roughly one-third of states, including Minnesota, have similar laws.
New stresses every day
Florida's new law comes in the wake of high-profile tragedy in the state, but first responders are exposed to challenging and highly stressful situations every day. While the Pulse nightclub shooting and school shootings are the focus of press coverage of Florida's new law, daily interactions can be just as traumatic.
NPR cites the example of firefighter and paramedic Josh Vandegrift, from Cocoa, FL. When he got to the scene of an accident in 2016, the victim was his own brother. This led to Vandegrift's battle with PTSD.
On-the-job injuries deserve compensation
The intense stress of these scenarios is hard on any witness, especially those who have a job to do. There are unique challenges when this stress overlaps with a career and the ability to earn a living.
The workers' compensation program was established to protect workers from injuries, ensuring that on-the-job incidents won't threaten one's livelihood. The simple fact is that injuries can be internal and external, and that PTSD plays a significant role in a worker's well-being. Anyone who experiences a traumatic situation at their workplace should consult with a workers' compensation attorney to get a better understanding of what treatment is available to help you recover from a painful situation.