Minnesota lawmakers are close to adding a statute that would make it easier for first responders to earn workers’ compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder that comes about as a result of their work duties.
Earlier this month, the Minnesota House voted to make it easier for first responders to earn compensation for traumatic events that affect their everyday life. Although PTSD is already compensable under Minnesota workers’ compensation law, many first responders have a tough time proving to the court that their PTSD was a direct result of their employment.
“Time and time again they say, ‘No, prove it,” said Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, who introduced the bill. “‘Prove that your PTSD is related to your work.’”
Under the new legislation, PTSD would be considered “presumptively an occupation condition” for first responders. That means that if a first responder has been diagnosed with PTSD by a licensed professional, it can be assumed that their work duties contributed to the onset of the condition.
First Responders and PTSD
Among others, the bill would cover employees like police officers, firefighters, prison guards, state troopers and paramedics who often witness emotionally traumatic scenes during the course of their employment. These work stressors can trigger PTSD and other mental health conditions, and that can lead to serious health issues, said Brian Rice, an attorney who argued for the bill at the Capitol.
“It’s mental impairment, it’s what these guys are going through in terms of higher use of drugs and alcohol,” said Rice. “If you’re representing there guys in cases and they don’t get the treatment they need, they wash out.”
The change is supported by Gov. Mark Dayton, who spoke about the bill at a May 4 press conference.
“I think there should be a firmer response,” said Dayton. “I think [PTSD] should be recognized for what it is – which is a debilitating disability.”
If you are a first responder, or you’ve witnessed an event at work that has contributed to a documented case of PTSD, reach out to Dean Margolis and his experienced legal team. Even if you’re not a first responder, we can put together a compelling case to get your the compensation and the mental health counseling you need. For more information on how we’ll achieve this, contact our firm today.
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