First responders are exposed to trauma every single day. The stress of their jobs is exacerbated by the fact that they can never be prepared for what they will encounter because there is no telling where the next call will take them. However, law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics might find comfort in learning that post-traumatic stress disorder is now recognized by Florida law as an occupational disease that is covered by workers’ compensation.
According to a consultant for crisis and trauma training for first responders, the law became effective at the beginning of October. He says that seeing and experiencing things that will stay with them forever is par for the course for first responders. The consultant says this statute will ensure that this type of occupational injury will be regarded in the same light as physical injuries.
Although the law specifies the qualifying criteria as traumatic events, the definition is deemed to be broad enough. The law stipulates that the first responder must be a personal witness to a homicide. Also, incidents in which the first responder treats or transports a child who does not survive or an adult who suffers a horrific fatal injury will qualify as traumatic events.
The variety of traumatic events that first responders attend to run the gamut, and many of the incidents cause nightmares, insomnia and flashbacks. People living with PTSD can isolate themselves socially, and might even consider or attempt suicide. For these reasons, recognizing PTSD as an occupational disease and providing financial benefits to cover the cost of treatment and lost wages is a massively positive step. An experienced Florida workers’ compensation attorney can help prove eligibility for such benefits.