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PTSD and Workers’ Compensation Claims for First Responders

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In 2015, Fitch & Associates’ Ambulance Service Manager Program conducted a research project aimed at determining the prevalence and severity of EMS provider stress in the workplace. A survey of more than 4,000 participants revealed that 86% of those who had responded had experienced what was defined as “stress we undergo either as a result of a single critical incident that had a significant impact… or the accumulation of stress over a period of time.” More of a concern, thirty-seven percent of those who responded indicated that they had thought about committing suicide, and 6.6 percent had actually made an attempt. Post-traumatic stress (PTSD) is a very real issue for our police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, as they all too often witness horrific events or their aftermath. If you are a first responder who is one of the many experiencing symptoms typical of PTSD, the attorneys at the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law want you know your rights regarding PTSD and workers’ compensation claims for first responders.

As a police officer, EMT or firefighter, you have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim for a physical injury, a mental condition, or both. Sometimes an accident that causes a physical injury will result in post traumatic stress, and workers’ compensation benefits will cover your expenses and lost wages that result from both.

There are a number of symptoms of PTSD, and not everybody will experience the condition in the same way. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Flashbacks of the precipitating event
  • Depression
  • Emotional detachment
  • Irritability
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • High level of anxiety or fear

You may also experience many of the physical symptoms that are often associated with stress, including headache, fatigue, high blood pressure or ulcers.  Workers’ compensation benefits cover both physical and mental conditions, but it is important that you are properly diagnosed and follow all of the correct procedures in filing your workers’ compensation claim.

First responders who believe that they may be suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome need to speak to an experienced PTSD workers’ compensation attorney. This is because in the state of Pennsylvania, the presentation of a mental injury as a compensable claim sometimes requires a greater burden of proof than is the case when a physical injury or physical stimulus is present. What the state Workers’ Compensation Board needs to see is that the working condition was objectively abnormal rather than subjective or perceived – they want to make sure that the situation isn’t simply that an employee is complaining that their boss has been consistently mean to them and claiming that it caused a mental injury. As a first responder,  you are exposed to unpredictable events on a daily basis, and if it causes you a mental injury, then you deserve workers’ compensation benefits. he best way to ensure that your claim properly communicates this is with the help of a knowledgeable lawyer from Vanasse Law.