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Is PTSD considered a work injury for first responders?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

First responders have a highly stressful and challenging job. They see things regularly that would make an average person frightened or upset. While many of these professionals are able to do their job duties without letting the things they see and hear get to them, there are times when those realities can cause issues.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s characterized by harsh reactions to stimuli that reminds a person of something that traumatized them. This condition can be debilitating, and it may require the first responder to stop working while they get treatment for the condition. In some cases, they won’t ever be able to return to work.

Intersection of workers’ compensation and PTSD

If a first responder is suffering from PTSD as a result of their work conditions, they’ll need to make an appointment with a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist so they can receive an accurate diagnosis. The diagnosis must adhere to the criteria set by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Because PTSD isn’t a physical condition that occurs with a single verifiable incident at work, it can often lead to challenging situations when they apply for workers’ compensation coverage. They’ll need to be able to show that the condition is due to one or more event that happened at work.

It may behoove these workers to maintain documentation of how various calls and incidents impacted them. In some cases, a major event, such as a mass-casualty, may provide a verifiable circumstance that would be considered traumatic enough to support a claim of work-related PTSD.

Fighting for the rights they’re due when they’re already battling PTSD can be stressful for a first responder. They may opt to turn to a legal representative who can work with them to determine how to support their claims. This could provide the first responder with an opportunity to continue focusing on healing while their representative pushes for the workers’ compensation benefits that they’re due.