Where The Injured
Go To Protect Their Rights

Firefighers have trouble getting workers’ compensation to cover PTSD

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

Our culture has a stereotype of firefighters as fearless heroes, There’s certainly some truth to that view, but firefighters are human beings, and their work can take a toll on them, physically and mentally.

When a firefighter is physically injured on the job, they can rely on workers’ compensation benefits to help them with medical treatment and lost wages. In some cases, they may be able to receive benefits for mental injuries as well, but this can be much more difficult.

Post traumatic stress disorder

Many people who experience or witness traumatic events suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a psychological disorder in which sufferers can have nightmares, flashbacks and other disturbing thoughts for months or even years. Severe cases can be debilitating, making people unable to function at work or in their personal lives.

PTSD is well known among war veterans, as well as among people who have experienced natural disasters, sexual assault and many other traumatic events. According to some estimates, nearly 10% of people may be diagnosed with PTSD at some point in their lives.

In recent years, policymakers have been paying more attention to the effect of PTSD among first responders, including firefighters. California lawmakers passed legislation ensuring that first responders suffering from PTSD could receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that many of these first responders are not getting the help they need from workers’ compensation.

A recent report by the RAND research institute shows that law enforcement officers and firefighters are more likely than other California workers to make workers’ compensation claims for PTSD, but that about 25% of these claims are denied. This is a much higher denial rate than first responders get with other types of workers’ compensation claims.

There are many theories as to why this is happening. Surely, one reason is simply that PTSD is difficult to diagnose. However, the RAND report also found that the denial rate for firefighters and police is higher than for other types of workers who make PTSD claims.

Whatever the explanation may be, it’s clear that workers who are suffering from PTSD may need some professional help to advocate for them through the workers’ compensation process.