In Oregon workers still, have the right to establish a psychological injury as a consequence of workplace stresses.
The claims are difficult to prove, but it can be done. In many states, it is not possible to even file these claims. Some cracks are beginning to show, and here is one.
Governor signs bill allowing worker’s compensation cover PTSD for first responders
TAMPA — For 30 years, Stephen LaDue worked as a firefighter-paramedic in Tampa. He responded to many difficult calls that left him with mental scars, said Megan Vila, his sister.
Before he killed himself in September, the father of three told his sister that he felt like the system had failed him, Vila said.
“During his last year on call, he began suffering from cumulative stress overload, which led to depression, alcohol abuse and suicide,” Vila said.
She said her brother first suffered silently, unable to tell people about the stress of his job without being seen as weak. When he did try to get workers’ compensation, he found out that mental trauma was not covered. Only people with physical wounds qualified, she said.
“For so long the stigma has been there,” she said. “First responders were told, ‘suck it up, buttercup.’?”
After her brother’s suicide, Vila lobbied lawmakers for months, making 15 trips to Tallahassee. She told them first responders needed to be able to get mental treatment and paid time off.
On Tuesday, inside the Tampa Firefighters Museum, she got what she wanted. Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that extends workers’ compensation benefits for first responders being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder. The law also requires agencies to provide education training related to mental health awareness.
The change puts Florida among a handful of states offering such benefits.