Police, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders often have to deal with horrific crime scenes and accidents. It is no surprise that these encounters can lead to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms can include the psychological like flashbacks and nightmares as well as the physical like fatigue, chest pain, and headaches. The presence of PTSD within the first responder population is so prevalent that the Institutes of Health has developed a treatment program specifically for this group of patients. The group estimates that over 400,000 first responders suffer from PTSD.
Unfortunately, getting workers’ compensation coverage for this type of disorder is not always easy. In the past it was difficult to establish a claim but in some states the law has changed to help better ensure first responders receive workers’ compensation benefits.
What is the law?
Louisiana lawmakers recently passed a law that allows first responders to get workers’ compensation coverage if they suffer from PTSD. The law covers those with PTSD as defined within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association when the PTSD is caused by an event that occurs in the course and scope of employment.
Notably, the law allows for a presumption of compensability. This means the law provides benefits to those who work as an employee of a police department, a fire employee, or an emergency medical services personnel in the same way state law grants those who have any other occupational disease. This coverage can apply whether a professional makes the diagnosis during or after employment.
What if the providers deny my claim?
It is possible to appeal a provider’s denial of coverage. Unfortunately, navigating the system is not always easy. An attorney experienced in this niche area of the law can explain the process and advocate for your rights, better ensuring you receive your entitled coverage.