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9/11 responder can keep PTSD workers comp benefits

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An appellate court in New York has upheld workers compensation benefits awarded to an upstate New York police officer who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after responding to the 9/11 attacks in New York City.

The 3rd Department of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division in Albany, New York, ruled last week that the officer, Richard A. Regan, was entitled to benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder, upholding a May 2012 decision by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Regan was sent from his job as a police officer in Hornell, New York, to New York City for six days, where he supplied support and assistance to first responders engaged in rescue and recovery efforts at ground zero, according to court documents.

In March 2010, Mr. Regan, who was then working as a police officer in Geneva, New York, was arrested for and charged with driving while intoxicated. He subsequently began receiving treatment for PTSD, resigned from his employment with the Geneva Police Department and filed a claim with Hornell, for workers compensation benefits.

The New York workers compensation ruled that Mr. Regan sustained injuries “arising out of and in the course of his employment” as a police officer in Hornell.

Lawyers for the City of Hornell Police Department filed an appeal after the workers compensation board declined a request by the employer and its workers compensation insurer for full board review in October 2012.

But the appellate court found that Mr. Regan’s “uncontroverted testimony indicated that he supplied direct support and assistance to first responders engaged in rescue and recovery efforts at ground zero; thus, the Board's determination … is supported by substantial evidence and will not be disturbed.”

Moreover the court ruled that the compensation board did not abuse its discretion in declining to grant a full review.

“In order to obtain review or reconsideration, the movant must generally show that newly discovered evidence exists, that there has been a material change in condition, or that the Board improperly failed to consider the issues raised in the application for review in making its initial determination,” the ruling states.