In Texas, two bills have been introduced to help firefighters and law enforcement personnel. One bill would help first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder related to their jobs to get workers’ compensation for PTSD if they can present evidence showing that their condition was largely caused by their job. The existing law states only that compensation can be obtained in the case of mental impairment. According to the representative who introduced the bill, this introduces financial obstacles and a stigma that could prevent some from seeking help. Another bill will create a liaison that assists first responders whose disputes over workers’ compensation claims has caused them distress.
A number of specific examples were cited to support the bills. For example, in 2016, five officers died in a shooting and another nine were wounded. Law enforcement and firefighting also has a high incidence of suicide. More officers committed suicide in 2015 than died in motor vehicle accidents or in the line of duty.
A former SWAT lieutenant spoke about the need for support for those who are embroiled in a workers’ compensation dispute. Paralyzed after a gunshot wound, he said it took almost three years to get lifetime income benefits, and he required the assistance of his wife and an attorney.
A workplace injury can be devastating for an employee and their family, and the injured worker may face similar obstacles in trying to get workers’ compensation. Workers may also face pressure from employers to not apply for benefits or might even be told that they are not eligible. Employers may try to retaliate against workers who apply although this is illegal. People who have been injured at work might want to talk to an attorney to be sure that they understand their rights.