Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious condition that can render a person unable to work or function normally in daily life. First responders can suffer PTSD because they see horrific sights and deal with traumatic and heartbreaking situations. Unfortunately, first responders diagnosed with PTSD are not eligible for workers’ compensation under Florida’s Workers’ Compensation system unless they also have a physical injury.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) develops after a person experiences a dangerous, shocking, or frightening event. Not all individuals develop chronic or ongoing PTSD that can become debilitant for years after the event. Signs and symptoms of PTSD include:
- Frightening thoughts
- Avoiding places, people, or things serve as reminders of the event
- Easily startled
- Sleeping problems
- Angry outbursts
- Feeling tense or on edge
- Distorted feelings of blame or guilt
- Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
Some of the risk factors for developing PTSD are directly related to the job of a first responder including:
- Seeing another person hurt
- Seeing dead bodies
- Living through traumas or dangerous events
- No social support after an event
There have been several incidents of PTSD among the first responders who worked the Pulse nightclub massacre. Other first responders have suffered PTSD and been forced to use vacation time, donated sick time, and then unpaid leave because they could not receive workers’ comp benefits.
PTSD Bill for First Responders
Orlando Democratic Senator Victor Torres and Orlando Republican Representative Mike Miller have proposed bills that would allow first responders who are suffering from PTSD to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, the bills have been stalled. The bill in the Florida Senate has had a hearing, but the bill pending in the Legislature has not received a hearing. A $2 million appropriation may be included in the State budget to treat first responders with PTSD by funding a clinic at the University of Central Florida. However, this does not solve the problem of first responders being out of work due to PTSD and receiving no income assistance while they are being treated. Something more needs to be done to help first responders who put their lives in jeopardy every day to protect the public. You can call your representative and our senators to demand that workers’ compensation benefits cover first responders when they are diagnosed with PTSD with or without a physical injury.
Call a Fort Lauderdale Workers’ Comp Attorney for a Free Appointment
If you have been injured in a workplace accident, you deserve to receive benefits under Florida’s workers’ compensation system. Sadly, you may have to fight for the benefits you are entitled to receive by law when an insurance company or your employer unfairly and illegally denies or delays your claim. The Broderick Law Firm, P.L. can help you obtain the benefits you deserve. Contact our office today 1-800-333-3903 to speak with an attorney. We represent individuals in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale & Miami, FL.