Bill Introduced to Help First Responders With PTSDFebruary 8th, 2017 by Lancaster & Eure, P.A.
Currently, psychiatric only injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are not covered under Florida's Workers' Compensation law. The law currently forbids, "payment of benefits under [the workers' compensation law] for mental or nervous injuries without an accompanying physical injury requiring medical treatment." Section 440.093(1), Florida Statutes (2015).
Following the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL first responder Gerry Realin was diagnosed with PTSD after having to carry almost 50 bodies out of the club. However Mr. Realin was denied workers' compensation benefits because he did not sustain a physical injury that required medical treatment. While this might seem like an arbitrary distinction to most, the effect is a total denial of benefits and forcing Mr. Realin to go entirely without compensation while trying to recover from the trauma he sustained.
Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) recently introduced a bill that seeks to extend protections for psychiatric only injuries to first responders like Mr. Realin. While the introduction of the bill is by no means a victory for injured workers, it is a step in the right direction to provide protection to those who put their own lives on the line on a daily basis to protect all others.