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Several bills were introduced Wednesday addressing post-traumatic stress disorder claims in workers compensation, according to drafts of legislation filed in four states.
In Colorado, S.B. 26 aims to expand the eligibility for PTSD benefits for workers who are exposed to psychologically traumatic event “establishing that a worker's visual or audible exposure to the serious bodily injury or death, or the immediate aftermath of the serious bodily injury or death, of one or more people as the result of a violent event, the intentional act of another person, or an accident is a psychologically traumatic event” would qualify. That bill would take effect 90 days after the close of the legislative session in 2020, but subject to petition, according to a draft of the bill.
S.B. 567 in California would amend to state’s definition of “injury” for a hospital employee who provides direct patient care, eliminating PTSD, cancer and respiratory diseases as acceptable on presumption. It is not clear when the law would go into effect if passed.
In Missouri, H.B. 1263 proposes to add post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed by an emergency worker by a psychiatrist or psychologist within three years of their last date of active service to be presumed to be an occupational disease compensable under the Act. The legislation would also add emergency air ambulance workers, including pilots, registered nurses, emergency medical technicians, firefighters or law enforcement personnel who may be on board, to the definition of first responders with occupational diseases that are presumed to have had their “origin” in their employment. If signed into law, the legislation would apply to claims arising on or after Aug. 28, 2020.
West Virginia’s S.B. 101 also makes PTSD compensable for first responders, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians or paramedics upon the diagnosis by a licensed physiatrist who opines that the disorder was the result of an event or events that occurred in the course and within the scope of the first responder’s employment. The bill does not provide details on when the law would go into effect.
The push to cover post-traumatic stress disorder for first responders is likely to continue despite challenges, according to experts.