Back in September 2014, we explored the possibility of workers’ compensation benefits extending to employees that suffered emotional trauma on the job. Now, a new discussion about its specific applicability in first responder circumstances has emerged. According to Bluffton Today, a first responder claiming workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina would need to have been directly involved in a traumatic event during the scope of their employment to qualify for benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Generally
Most workers’ compensation claims are brought by employees that have been injured or involved in an accident at work. A successful workers’ compensation claim allows a worker, who is unable to work, to receive up to two-thirds of the wages he would receive if he were still working. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that can pay out directly on insurance claims, leaving less for the injured employee to be required to pay out of pocket.
When an employee trips and falls on something that another worker negligently left laying around and the management failed to remove it, a person may have a “cut and dry” workers’ compensation claim. Other circumstances may make the outcome of a claim a little murkier. For example, when a first responder such as a firefighter or police officer goes to a devastating, gruesome, or particularly traumatizing scene, emotional injury may occur. South Carolina lawmakers are working hard to include emotional injuries on the same spectrum as physical injuries under workers’ compensation law.
Emotional Injuries are Real Injuries
A first responder, under current law, would likely be unable to successfully claim workers’ compensation for a purely emotional injury. Despite developments in psychological and medical understanding of PTSD, most states are still reluctant to offer the benefit of workers’ compensation insurance to employees suffering PTSD. Emotional injuries can be difficult to “prove,” particularly when physical injuries are absent. However, federal employees may receive this benefit in certain instances as of now, according to the United States Department of State.
First responders are susceptible to extreme emotional injury during a catastrophe. One of the first clear examples of PTSD being offered was when 9/11 first responders were offered workers’ compensation insurance on the basis of PTSD given the extreme circumstances surrounding the event, though these benefits are scheduled to lapse soon. Firefighters, police officers, medics, and other emergency personnel experience life-changing events frequently in their career. Extending the right of workers’ compensation to these professions in circumstances involving emotional trauma would be a step in recognizing that emotional injuries are real injuries and that they require the recovery, therapy, and time that physical injuries demand as well.
Columbia, South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you or anyone you know has been injured at work, you understand how frustrating it can be to be away from the workplace. You may suffer emotionally, physically, and financially. At Solomon Law Group, our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys know how to navigate a workers’ compensation claim from start to finish so that you receive the benefits that you are entitled to. If you have any questions about your rights or responsibilities under South Carolina workers’ compensation law, contact our convenient Columbia location today.