Workers' Compensation Benefits for First Responders/Mental or Nervous Injury (Oppose – Unfunded Mandate)

<p>Workers' Compensation Benefits for First Responders/Mental or Nervous Injury (Oppose – Unfunded Mandate)</p><p> HB 227 (Willhite) and CS/SB 376 (Book) provide that a mental or nervous injury suffered by a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician or paramedic is compensable under the workers’ compensation law if the mental or nervous injury was shown to meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. CS/SB 376 was amended in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee to lower the evidentiary standard for compensability from clear and convincing evidence to a preponderance of evidence. The clear and convincing evidence standard requires that the evidence be substantially more likely to be true whereas the preponderance of evidence standard requires that the evidence be mostly true (above 50 percent). This has the potential to impact cities because it is a less stringent standard of proof.  Additionally, the amendment eliminates the requirement that an employee must initiate mental health treatment within 15 days after the incident. Finally, the amendment to CS/SB 376 expands the instances that qualify for compensability by allowing a first responder to arrive at the scene of a murder, suicide, fatal injury or child death, rather than witnessing a qualifying act. (<a href="mailto:dcruz@flcities.com">Cruz</a>)</p>