Ohio lawmakers want to extend workers compensation benefits to first responders’ access who experience post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the Columbus Dispatch, House lawmakers added a provision to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation budget that would allow police, firefighters and emergency medical workers to file claims without a correlating physical injury.
However, the provision is seeing resistance from businesses that pay into the state workers' compensation system.
Lowe Eklund Wakefield workers' compensation attorney Carly Ibold believes that the proposed changes could indicate that Ohio is expanding its perspective to include non-physical traumas. "To have several injured worker-friendly amendments added to the BWC Budget Bill is a step in the right direction," said Ibold, who focuses her practice on workers' compensation law.
"Historically, Ohio is not a state where workers are viewed favorably over employers for workers' compensation. There was $1.5 billion from 2018 premiums that was refunded to companies, partly because the bureau and employers saved businesses money by denying claims," Ibold said. "That money and those premiums are allocated toward treating injured workers."
First responders say that requiring a physical injury, as under current law, is inconsistent with the definition of PTSD, which says a physical injury is not among the criteria for a diagnosis.
PTSD can be triggered by a single event, or the culmination of multiple experiences, such as fatal house fires or car accidents, William Quinn, secretary-treasurer of the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters, told a House committee.
Even with the proposed changes, Ibold still believes injured workers should retain experienced representation when pursuing a claim, particularly because a lawyer can preserve your interests and advise you of all your rights under the workers’ compensation system.
"When it comes to psychological conditions, there are still ways for employers to make an argument that PTSD is not work-related," Ibold said. "Even with this new provision, if you don't have a good lawyer, it's an uphill battle against the system."
If you have questions about workers compensation, contact us at (440) 226-3566 to speak with an attorney for a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation.