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Seven years after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and several years in the making, first responders in Connecticut will now be able to apply for workers compensation if they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing a distressing event in the line of duty.
Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday signed Public Act No. 19-17, which replaced S.B. 164 after compromises and deliberations, and is now in effect retroactively as of July 1, the act states.
The previous law permitted first responders to file a workers comp claim for a mental health injury only when accompanied by a physical injury. The new law extends that coverage, “recognizing that first responders in particular can be exposed to events on the job that can cause difficulty coping or adjusting for weeks and months at a time, sometimes leading to intense flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and depression,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.
Coverage will be available to police officers, parole officers and firefighters who have experienced one of the following six events: witnessing the death of a person; witnessing an injury that causes the death of a person shortly thereafter; treating an injured person who dies shortly thereafter; carrying an injured person who dies shortly thereafter; viewing a deceased minor; and witnessing an incident that causes a person to lose a body part, to suffer a loss of function or that results in permanent disfigurement, according to the law.
“The concept for the legislation was first introduced in the General Assembly following the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in which 20 children and 6 adults were murdered,” according to the governor’s statement.
The Connecticut Senate on Wednesday introduced last-minute amendments to a bill that would provide workers compensation to first responders diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.