PA Looks to Expand Workers’ Compensation Rights for Police and First Responders
For far too long, Pennsylvania police officers and first responders have faced an uphill battle to receive workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suffered as a result of their duties. However, that may be changing with a new bill that is being considered by the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
Traditionally, insurance companies and courts have been very reluctant to grant workers’ compensation benefits for psychological injuries like PTSD. The law requires a higher and stricter standard when awarding compensation for purely mental or psychological injuries. That higher standard requires proof that the mental injury resulted from some type of abnormal working condition.
Under that standard, police and first responders have had an incredibly difficult time receiving benefits for PTSD they suffer as a result of their duties. Courts have repeatedly been hesitant to award benefits for the psychological injuries that can result the disturbing things public servants sometimes experience or witness while on duty. Even though police and first responders can suffer PTSD from these events, they have all too often been forced to go without workers’ compensation benefits for their mental injuries.
However, things may be changing for the better in the near future. The Pennsylvania General Assembly is currently considering a new bill that would expand the workers’ compensation rights of police and first responders. Under the bill, police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) would be entitled to compensation benefits for psychological injuries, including PTSD, connected to their employment, even if the mental injury is not accompanied by physical injuries. The bill is currently with the Committee on Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness, but it will hopefully work its way to a vote and ultimately to Governor Wolf’s desk in the near future.
Police officers and first responders put their lives on the line to protect others on a daily basis and they deserve this sort of protection. This bill finally recognizes the reality of these public servants’ jobs, as well as the real harm PTSD can cause. Extending benefits for these injuries is an important step in protecting those who serve our communities.