First responders are exposed to situations that most workers will never have to experience. It should come as no surprise that so many of them, at some point, may suffer from PTSD. The question many of them have for our Clearwater workers comp attorneys is whether this is covered under workers compensation.
In Florida, Most Workers Must Suffer a Physical Injury to Qualify for Benefits
Under Florida law, in order for a person to qualify for workers compensation, they need to suffer a physical injury. If they do qualify for benefits, they’ll receive both medical coverage and weekly replacement wages.
For years, Clearwater workers comp attorneys have been able to help employees who suffered psychological trauma after being injured on the job. For example, imagine a person working in construction who falls off scaffolding and is severely injured.
An employee can receive medical care and loss of income benefits for a mental condition as long as they can prove that a job-related injury is the main cause. For years, the same rule applied to first responders. After Florida changed the law in 2007, first responders who developed PTSD without any physical injury could receive medical benefits but not income benefits.
The problem is that it’s often impossible for first responders with severe PTSD to continue to work. This means that they’ll go without an income until they recover. If workers’ compensation only covers their medical care, what are they to do? The good news is Florida law now extends replacement wages to first responders in certain circumstances.
Your Clearwater Workers Comp Attorney Is Familiar with the Law Regarding First Responders
For years, Clearwater workers comp attorneys would become frustrated when their clients’ weekly benefits would be denied. Despite the fact that these people worked as first responders, they were limited to the same benefits as ordinary employees.
One of the reasons this seemed so unfair is that first responders are exposed to extraordinarily stressful situations. By the very nature of their job, they have to deal with death on an almost daily basis. This can take a toll on a person. Insurance companies and many employers argued that these workers were aware of the stresses that come with the job.
In October of 2018, Governor Rick Scott, of Florida, passed a new law regarding workers comp for first responders. This law dictated that first responders who were exposed to extremely traumatic events on the job were entitled to full workers comp benefits.
This would include both medical care as well as weekly replacement wages. Of course, the law does not apply to all injuries suffered by first responders. There are very specific circumstances that must apply for this law to be invoked.
The Law Only Applies to Specific Categories of Workers
The law, which applies retroactively to any injuries suffered from October 2017 through the present, has limitations. For example, it only applies to certain workers. These include the following:
- Members of law enforcement
If you work in a position that you believe should be included by this law, you should contact a Clearwater workers compensation lawyer. They can certainly present your concerns to the insurance carriers and try to get your claim approved.
You Can Only Receive Weekly Benefits for PTSD if You Meet Certain Criteria
It’s important to understand that not all first responders will be entitled to the expanded benefits. These benefits are only triggered if you experience certain stressful situations. These situations are clearly described in the law.
For you to be eligible for weekly benefits in a situation where there is no physical injury, the following criteria must be met:
- You must be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by a psychiatrist following a “death-related” event.
- The event must occur during the normal scope of your employment.
- This event could involve the death of a child, a homicide, or the death of anyone who suffered serious bodily harm.
- The law does extend to situations involving suicide.
- To qualify for benefits, you must have either seen or heard the event that caused the death.
- You must file your claim within thirty (30) days of the triggering event.
- Your Clearwater workers comp attorney must demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, that the event was the source of your PTSD.
It can be rather confusing to determine if your claim meets these criteria. That’s why it’s always best to consult with an experienced Clearwater injury attorney. They know the law. They also know how to gather the necessary evidence to prove that you’re entitled to full benefits under workers compensation.
Your Clearwater Workers Comp Lawyer Must Prove That You Meet Specific Requirements
One part of the law that seems to confuse a lot of workers is the burden of proof. As stated above, your Clearwater workers comp attorney must prove by clear and convincing evidence that you meet the criteria outlined here.
What this means is that there must be specific evidence that would lead a reasonable person to believe your claim to be true. You don’t have to worry about this on your own. Your Clearwater injury attorney will deal with the legal side of things.
Contact Our Skilled Workers Compensation Lawyers in Clearwater Today!
If you’re a first responder and you aren’t sure what your rights are, contact our office immediately. You put your life on the line every day. When it’s your own life that you’re fighting for, there’s no reason to do it alone. Let one of our Clearwater workers comp attorneys help get you the benefits you deserve.
We recommend that you contact our office as soon as possible after your workplace event. These cases are handled a bit differently than other workers’ compensation cases. The good news is that our Clearwater injury attorneys are familiar with the laws in Florida that cover first responders. If you’re interested in learning more about what you should do if you get re-injured at work, visit this page
We offer all new clients a free, initial consultation.