Workers' Compensation Benefits for First Responders/Mental or Nervous Injury (Watch)

Workers' Compensation Benefits for First Responders/Mental or Nervous Injury (Watch)

The League commends our first responders for the sacrifices they make in the line of duty. At times, a first responder acting within the course of his or her employment may experience a horrific event that is responsible for a mental or nervous injury, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Under bills being considered during the 2018 legislative session, workers’ compensation benefits would be expanded to include wage benefits for first responders suffering from PTSD. Currently, first responders suffering from PTSD may only receive medical benefits under workers’ compensation but not wage/indemnity benefits.

CS/CS/CS/HB 227 (Willhite) and CS/CS/SB 376 (Book) detail specific traumatic events that would qualify a first responder to be compensable under the workers’ compensation law for lost wages, if a mental or nervous injury was shown to meet the criteria for PTSD as determined by a psychiatrist. The legislation requires a clear and convincing evidentiary standard be met by the first responder. The bills require a first responder to receive a diagnosis of PTSD within 30 days of the qualifying event or 30 days from the manifestation of the disorder, whichever is later, but cannot be more than a year after the qualifying event. Finally, the legislation requires an employing agency of a first responder to provide educational training related to mental health awareness, prevention, mitigation and treatment.

Note: The Florida League of Cities worked with the Senate and House bill sponsors to narrow the scope of the bills and now the League no longer opposes the legislation. (Cruz)