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Firefighters Push To Change Workers' Compensation Law For PTSD

Awareness of the causes and effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome has grown substantially in recent years, especially with regard to our veterans returning from combat. However, many workers in Minnesota face traumatic events while on the job. Health care professionals, security guards and first responders often experience traumatic events while doing their jobs. An armed robbery at a convenience store, a violent incident at any establishment or office building, as well as a life-threatening accident may all trigger PTSD.

Since 2013, Minnesota law has recognized work-related PTSD as a compensable condition under workers' compensation, even if not tied to a personal work-related physical injury. However, workers need to have a valid diagnosis of PTSD and proof that the condition developed from a work-related traumatic incident.

First Responders Gather To Support PTSD Bill

In January, many first responders gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol hoping to raise support for a bill that is intended to make it easier for firefighters, EMTs and members of law enforcement to obtain workers' compensation benefits for PTSD. A recent story in the Star Tribune says that PTSD among firefighters is a "silent epidemic." A proposed law under debate at the capital would recognize PTSD among first responders as presumptively an on the job injury. On March 15, 2018, the bill passed in the Minnesota House.

Any terrifying event can trigger symptoms of PTSD, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms range from the person having flashbacks and nightmares to self-destructive behavior--and more. Suicidal thoughts are common. Researchers estimate that somewhere between 7 and 37 percent of firefighters have developed PTSD.

Getting Help For PTSD Is Vital

While policymakers and commentators continue to discuss potential options for treating PTSD in high intensity occupations, it is important to note that it may be possible for workers to obtain important benefits through the workers' compensation system. Working with your doctor is critical. Legal guidance from an established workers' compensation lawyer is also important is obtaining important benefits for medical treatment, lost wages and other potential compensation for your PTSD.

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