New Law Would Allow Workers’ Comp for First Responders with PTSD

In Ohio, first responders can only file for workers’ compensation if they received physical injuries on the job. This means that there is no possibility of workers’ comp for first responders with PTSD. It’s a problematic policy, because post-traumatic stress disorder is a devastating medical condition that is unusually common among first responders. According to a survey of around 4,000 of these individuals, the Journal of Emergency Medical Services states that 37% of first responders have contemplated suicide, and around 7% have tried to take their own lives.

Ohio lawmakers considered whether to expand the workers’ comp of emergency responders to include PTSD. Initially successful, these provisions of the workers’ comp budget bill (House Bill 80) were eventually removed from the final version. Legislators pledged to address the issue in a bill next year. At Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA, we are carefully following these efforts to expand workers’ compensation to first responders with PTSD.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, call our Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialists Adrienne Hines and Victor Kademenos for free at (419) 871-9015, or reach out through the online form to schedule an initial consultation.

Ohio Failed to Extend Worker’s Comp to First Responders with PTSD

The PTSD provisions of HB 80 were written in response to tragic stories such as that of the late Trevor Murphy, a firefighter with the Orange Township Fire Department in Delaware. His mother testified in favor of the bill before the House Finance Committee,

“A little girl died in my son’s arms and he struggled very bad with that. His last call was for a man trapped in a car with gasoline pouring on both of them, When he was able to release the gentleman from the seat belt he fell dead in his arms and that devastated my son it completely broke him.”

Murphy subsequently hung himself, yet another victim of PTSD. Had he been able to get help for his medical condition through the workers’ compensation system, his death could have been avoided. The promise of HB 80 to avoid further tragedies propelled the law through the House Finance and Rules committees. But the bill only passed a Senate vote after significant amendments that effectively removed PTSD coverage from workers’ compensation.

The resistance to the PTSD amendment came primarily from the Ohio business community. Organizations such as the Ohio Manufacturers Association and the National Federation of Independent Business Association lobbied against expanding workers’ compensation to include PTSD. They argued that the expansion would cost money and increase bureaucracy, all while paving the way for false claims from first responders who’ve simply had a stressful day on the job. Since the presence of PTSD cannot be confirmed as easily as physical injuries, they argue that the state will spend too much time and money verifying this type of workers’ compensation claim.

Because of the difficulties in passing HB 80 with the PTSD amendments, the Ohio legislature had to pass an emergency bill to fund Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) while negotiations continued. In the end, proponents of expanding PTSD coverage agreed to leave their provisions out of the budget, and to propose a new law on the issue next year. For now, Ohio first responders are on their own if they have PTSD.

A Lawyer Can Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

The workers’ compensation process doesn’t always go smoothly and result in a fair outcome. At Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA, our goal is to ensure that everyone gets the compensation they deserve from the BWC. If your workers’ compensation claim has been denied, our Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialists Adrienne Hines and Victor Kademenos can help. Contact us today at (419) 871-9015 to schedule a free consultation about your case.