Post-traumatic stress disorder is a debilitating condition that affects approximately 3.5% of Americans. When post-traumatic stress disorder is brought on by the nature of your work or a specific work incident, it is difficult to know what your options are when you require ongoing therapy and medication.
A new bill recently passed in the Ohio House would expand workers’ compensation options to include PTSD for certain fields.
At Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co., LPA, our Ohio workers’ compensation attorneys understand how stressful it is to be out of work because of an injury. That’s why we provide personalized and skilled representation, so you get all the Ohio workers’ compensation you deserve.
Current Laws Regarding PTSD and Workers’ Comp
Currently, it is very difficult for Ohio employees to get workers’ compensation for PTSD. In a 2013 ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court decided that employees cannot get workers’ compensation for PTSD unless their PTSD was caused by a compensable physical injury.
In many cases, PTSD is caused not by a physical injury but by a mentally traumatic experience in the workplace. This ruling prevented most employees with PTSD from getting compensation.
Who Would Benefit From the New Legislation?
The bill recently passed by the Ohio House benefits first responders who develop PTSD as a result of their work conditions. It was backed by the Ohio State Medical Association, Columbus Fire Fighters IAFF Local 67, the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, and the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters.
Police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services workers would be able to collect workers’ compensation for PTSD under this bill.
How PTSD Impacts Employees
Testimony from emergency services workers led to the passing of House Bill 308. One person noted that, while the average person only experiences one to three traumatic events in their lifetime, first responders can see upwards of seven per month. First responders have a suicide rate that is five times higher than that of the general population.
Those with PTSD often suffer from anxiety, uncontrolled anger, a lack of focus, suicidal thoughts and ideation, sleeplessness and nightmares, and substance or alcohol abuse. Without workers’ compensation, first responders with PTSD have to rely on their health benefits to provide treatment for PTSD. This is often financially unsustainable, and as a result, people go without the treatment they need.
Who Opposes the Workers’ Comp PTSD Bill?
Despite widespread support for House Bill 308, there are still a number of groups who oppose the bill. The County Commissioners Association of Ohio & Ohio Township Association and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association are both vocal opponents of the bill.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce claims that the workers’ compensation system is not designed to pay out for mental injuries, nor is it capable of doing so.
The bill now goes to the Senate for approval.
What This Means for Employees in Other Fields
While House Bill 308 only provides workers’ compensation for first responders, coverage could become more widespread as the benefits of widely accessible PTSD treatment become available. Workplace stress can occur in any industry and setting. If this bill passes the Senate and becomes law, representatives from other industries could use it as a starting point to fight for PTSD coverage in their fields.
Protecting Your Rights After a Work Injury
The workers’ compensation system does not always protect employees. In some cases, insurance companies and employers fight to deny employees the compensation they deserve.
If you have been injured at work, reach out to Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co., LPA now. Adrienne M. Hines and Victor Kademenos are Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law. This is a rare qualification, meaning we have specific training recognized by the Ohio Bar Association.