What is the Florida First Responders PTSD Bill?

workers’ compensation benefitsBack in 2018, a new law went into effect that helps first responders in Florida who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. The law was signed after the 2018 legislative session came to an end by Governor Rick Scott.

PTSD is a serious issue that first responders face on a regular basis because of what they see on each day while working. First responders include police officers, EMTs, firefighters, and paramedics. Let’s explore the Florida first responders’ PTSD bill, which expands workers’ compensation, which has been in effect since October 1 in today’s post.

What Does SB 376 Provide?

Under SB 376, all of the first responders named earlier would see workers’ compensation benefits expanded when they suffer from PTSD. The state has also released new training materials for first responders on PTSD and how to handle the stresses of the job.

A study from the Journal of Emergency Medical Services published in 2015 found that 6.6 percent of 4,000 emergency responders surveyed said that they had tried committing suicide. This is 10 times the rate of the general public.

The new law allows first responders to file for extended workers’ compensation benefits that cover lost wages if the first responder is on a call that involves the death of a minor or witness a death that was due to grievous harm to the body that shocks the first responder’s conscious.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance expects that costs for cities and counties that hire first responders will see an increase in workers’ compensation costs totaling $7 million or more.

How the Law Helps First Responders

The new law expanding workers’ compensation benefits for first responders helps these workers in various ways. For starters, first responders who see and experience difficult things on the job and suffer from PTSD will not have to consider resigning from their position in order to deal with their illness. Instead, first responders will now be able to seek professional help, even if it forces them to miss time at work, since they can now file for workers’ compensation benefits to help them pay for their lost wages.

No longer will first responders have to make the tough decision between remaining on the job, helping others while putting food on their own tables, and leaving their profession because they either can no longer do the job or have had help for PTSD denied.

Representative Matt Willhite, who is also a captain for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, was the sponsor of the bill in the House. “Whether they cover car crashes, shootings or the death of a child those are not things that are easy to deal with,” Willhite said. “And even though we signed up for the job we knew we would see some terrible things. We didn’t expect the toll it would take on us.”

Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

Have you been suffering from anxiety, depression, or other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder because of your job as an emergency responder? Under SB 376 you have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages if you miss time on the job due to PTSD. Call the West Palm Beach office of Scott J. Sternberg & Associates, P.A. at 561-687-5660 to schedule a consultation.

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