PTSD workers' compensation benefits for Ohio first responders
Ohio is one step closer to granting workers’ compensation benefits to first responders diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. This policy change would allow workers’ compensation benefits for this mental health condition without requiring an accompanying physical injury.
The proposed change provides that an injury occurs “where the claimant is a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical worker and is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder that has been received in the course of, and has arisen out of, the claimant’s employment as a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical worker.”
First responders lined the balcony of the Ohio House chamber to support lawmakers after the passage of the PTSD workers’ compensation bill, H.B. 308. Opponents of the bill, which is now before the Ohio Senate, have suggested Ohio should create a different system to provide benefits for PTSD for first responders as the current law provides for the allowance of psychiatric conditions for employees only when a physical injury or occupational disease has caused the psychiatric condition or where the psychiatric conditions have arisen from forced sexual conduct by means of a threat of physical harm.
For example, an uninjured peace officer who witnesses a shooting at a bank robbery under the proposed H.B. 308 is permitted to file for an allowance for PTSD. However, the uninjured bank teller who witnesses the shooting of a co-worker cannot file an allowance for PTSD because the teller must first prove a physical injury before filing for an allowance of a psychiatric condition.
Public entities with first responder employees should be aware of this proposed legislation and the potential increase of first responder claims for workers’ compensation benefits for mental injuries due to PTSD.