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Florida workers’ comp will now cover PTSD for first responders

Florida has a new law meant to help take care of first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It aims at reducing the number of first responders who take their own life—many of whom have been diagnosed with traumatic stress. Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law, and it takes effect starting October 1, 2018.

Giving responders time to recover

Firefighters, law enforcement, paramedics and other first responders are now eligible for paid time off to recover from PTSD. Prior to this bill, time off to address PTSD was unpaid. This forced many emergency services workers to go back to work before they were ready.

The goal is to lower the high suicide rate of first responders. It aims to allow people time to recover after working through traumatic events. Now these workers can take needed time off to address their trauma instead of rushing back to work.

A long time coming

Florida legislators first introduced the bill after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016. Several first responders to the scene of the shooting were later diagnosed with PTSD. However, the bill did not pass because of the concerns over cost-increases for local fire and rescue units.

Giving people time to cope

First responders diagnosed with PTSD can file claims in October, as long as the event was in the prior year. The opportunity to heal from trauma encountered at work will be a welcome relief. Many of these workers face high-stress incidents daily.

Workers’ compensation is an invaluable tool for anyone recovering from a work injury. If you have any questions about Florida’s workers’ compensation program, an experienced workers' comp attorney can guide you through the process.

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