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PTSD & Workers’ Compensation

A Charleston County police officer witnessed his partner get murdered while on duty at a shootout in West Ashley. The man who witnessed his partner die was also shot, which entitled him to workers’ compensation. However, he would not have been able to get coverage if he did not also take a bullet.  The officer stated that he would not have been able to continue his job in law enforcement if he had not received the psychiatric care that he did.  

Proposed Law about Workers’ Comp Claims & Mental Health

In South Carolina, as the law currently exists, if a first responder only suffers a mental injury, they have to pay for treatment out of their own pocket.  Some senators in the state house believe that that the coverage provided by the state health plan is sufficient to cover mental health issues, while others disagree and believe that workers compensation should cover physical and mental injuries. The difference between recovering under workers’ compensation law and the state health plan is that for first responders who use the state health plan, they have to pay deductibles and copays out of pocket. If PTSD treatment was covered by workers’ compensation, these same individuals would have these services covered.

There is a law before the South Carolina State house that aims to include post-traumatic stress disorder treatment under workers’ compensation claims. The bill would allow those who work in first responder industries (police, fire, emergency etc.) to claim treatment for PTSD as a compensable injury under workers’ compensation law.

What is the current Workers’ Compensation law on PTSD in SC?

Currently, workers’ compensation law in South Carolina provides that if an individual develops PTSD from an on-the-job incident, without physical injury, workers’ compensation would not cover psychiatric visits. If the PTSD came in addition to a physical injury, the current law on workers’ compensation would cover it.

Workers’ compensation generally offers an injured individual the ability to receive all medical treatment that lessens a disability. It is common for workers’ compensation to pay for surgeries, hospitalizations, medical supplies and prescriptions. However, to date there is no real provisions for mental health in the workers’ compensation laws. Workers’ compensation more easily applies to physical injuries. What usually happens in workers’ compensation cases is that a maximum dollar value will be assigned for the loss of a body part.  While South Carolina has a formula for calculating losses like the loss of the use of an arm, they do not have similar formulas for decreased mental capacity.

Have you been injured at work?

If you have been injured at work or if you suffer from PTSD from a work related accident, a skilled Columbia workers’ compensation attorney can help you with your claim and the appeal process. The Solomon Law Group has the experience to help you handle your case and help you get the benefits that you deserve. Our workers’ compensation attorneys can help you through your entire claims process. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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