California’s workers’ compensation laws serve to ensure workers who are injured in on-the-job accidents have grounds to seek financial compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and other losses they may incur due to their injuries. For example, if your job requires you to drive to various work sites, and you’re involved in a car accident that leaves you with a concussion while driving for work, you can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits accordingly.
That example involves a physical injury. However, there are also instances in which employees in California may be eligible to recover workers’ comp benefits for psychological injuries. In some instances, they don’t even need to prove these injuries resulted from work-related accidents or conditions to be deemed eligible for benefits.
For example, about three years ago, new California legislation determined that post-traumatic stress disorder is a relatively common health condition in police officers and local firefighters. As such, the legislation made it clear that when local firefighters and police officers file claims for workers’ compensation benefits due to PTSD, it should be presumed that their PTSD did result from the conditions of their employment.
This simply means that when police officers and local firefighters seek workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD they don’t need to go through the process of citing specific on-the-job incidents or experiences that may have caused them to develop these conditions. The assumption should be that someone in these professions who is struggling with PTSD has developed their condition due to work-related experiences.
This presumption has now been extended to apply to state-employed firefighters. It also applies to public safety agency dispatchers.
Specific details of the law worth being familiar with include:
- It only applies to PTSD which developed/manifested on or after January 1, 2020
- To be eligible for compensation, a claimant must have developed PTSD or begun experiencing symptoms of the condition while employed as a state firefighter, local firefighter, police officer, or public safety agency dispatcher
For example, perhaps a claimant is no longer employed as a firefighter. They’ve begun experiencing symptoms of PTSD and are seeking workers’ compensation benefits accordingly. Because they no longer work as a firefighter, they may struggle to show that they are eligible to recover compensation in these circumstances.
Seeking Workers’ Comp Benefits for PTSD in California: The Importance of Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
These new developments are certainly good news for many firefighters and other such workers in California. However, it’s important to understand that workers’ compensation insurance carriers aren’t necessarily inclined to offer immediate and full payment to claimants. Because they remain profit-driven businesses, insurance companies have a tendency to seek reasons to justify denying claims whenever possible.
This is one of the many reasons it’s wise to enlist an attorney’s help when filing a workers’ compensation claim for PTSD or any other such conditions. At Koszdin, Fields & Sherry, our Van Nuys workers’ compensation insurance lawyers can help you present a strong case demonstrating why your claim should be accepted. Learn more about how we can help by contacting us online or calling us at 818-812-5639.