First responders and firefighters in California have incredibly tough jobs, and there are times when these courageous citizens suffer from injuries that cannot be seen. This includes serious mental health injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Gov. Newsome recently signed a bill that allows these workers a stronger chance of earning workers compensation benefits when they are diagnosed with PTSD from job-related injuries. At Koszdin, Fields & Sherry, our Los Angeles workers compensation lawyers applaud this bill, and we want to discuss what this could mean for affected workers.
What this new law does for first responders
Gov. Newsome’s office announced that he signed Senate Bill 542 recently to ensure that firefighters and first responders are protected.
“The job of firefighters and first responders can be very rewarding, but at the same time, extremely unpredictable,” said Gov. Newsome. “They can experience high-stress situations and traumatic incidents that can push them to the limit both physically and mentally, and we need to recognize and take those challenges head on.”
This law, along with two other bills he signed, will provide mental health support to firefighters and police officers. One of the laws establishes standards for peer support programs and another prohibits the outsourcing of local emergency dispatch services to for-profit agencies.
This is a necessary step to take for the state. Amid record-breaking wildfires and the regularity of mass shootings, our first responders are facing situations that can severely traumatize them. Suicides among first responders are not outpacing on-duty deaths, according to the Ruderman Family Foundation, a group that works on disability inclusion.
The foundation said that in 2017, there were 103 firefighter suicides and 140 police officer suicides across the state. Unfortunately, California law has made it more difficult for first responders suffering from work-related mental health issues to gain access to the treatment they need through workers’ compensation.
There was opposition to the bill. Many groups, including the California Coalition on Workers Compensation. They said that this law will mean local governments face unknown price tags and that mental health claims are not inappropriately denied.
However, most of us who work in and around the workers compensation industry know that mental health injury claims are more commonly rejected than traumatic physical injuries. We want everyone to know that just because an injury is not immediately visible does not mean that it does not exist.
We are going to help you get through this
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with PTSD due to work-related injuries, please seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At Koszdin, Fields & Sherry, we are ready to fight for your right to receive compensation for what has happened to you. this can include:
- Coverage of all medical bills related to the incident
- Your rightful compensation if you cannot work
- Loss of future earnings and earning potential