Beginning January 1, 2019, a new workers compensation law in Minnesota is set to take effect. This new law will allow peace officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, public safety dispatchers, corrections officers, or medical personnel on active duty who have not previously been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder to file for workers compensation for the mental impairment. Under the law, any PTSD reports by such workers on or after Jan. 1, 2019, will be considered due to the nature of their job, provided there was no previous diagnosis.
PTSD Presumed an Occupational Disease for Certain Jobs
The change in Minnesota workers compensation rules means that PTSD will now be presumed to be an occupational disease related to the nature of the person’s employment. People who work in certain roles and deal with traumatic situations regularly who have not been previously diagnosed with PTSD will be considered to have developed PTSD as a result of their employment.
Included in the list of affected occupations are active first responders such as licensed police officers, paramedics and firefighters; emergency medical technicians; licensed nurses who are hired outside a medical facility; officers employed in certain facilities; sheriffs and deputy sheriffs; and Minnesota State Patrol members.
Under workers compensation laws, an occupational disease is a mental or physical disease that arises out of and during the course of employment “particular to the occupation the employee is engaged in and due to causes in excess of the hazards ordinary of employment…”
In 2013, Minnesota’s Legislature first acknowledged PTSD as a compensable workplace injury under workers compensation benefits, with the requirement being that workers have a psychiatrist or psychologist make a PTSD diagnosis. First responders and other workers in high-stress environments still had their claims for PTSD denied, which is why the law was proposed.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a potentially debilitating condition that can affect every area of a person’s life, including their work and personal life. Unfortunately, it has historically been difficult for first responders and people involved in such occupations to receive the compensation and medical care they need to help them.
Rebuttals to Presumption of Occupational Disease
Employers may be able to rebut the presumption by presenting substantial factors, but those factors must be communicated to the employee when liability is denied. For example, an employer could have evidence that the worker did not have a PTSD diagnosis or that the PTSD is the result of something in the employee’s personal life, not something job-related. If the employer can prove such situations, then the employee would not be eligible for workers compensation benefits.
Furthermore, PTSD resulting from any disciplinary action or any action made by the employer in good faith is also not considered an occupational disease. This is because such actions are generally deemed to be a normal part of regular employment.
Workers Compensation Attorney
Dealing with workers compensation can be complex and stressful. If you’re filing a workmans comp claim, you’re already dealing with a physical or mental impairment that was caused as a result of your employment. Your focus should be on recovering and obtaining the treatment you need to restore your health. To maximize your claim, though, you need to put together the strongest case possible. Failure to provide information or submit the proper paperwork can have a devastating effect on your workers compensation application.
Attorneys at Patterson Dahlberg have an excellent track record of maximizing claimants’ Minnesota workers compensation recovery. Our attorneys are specialized in representing injured workers and are highly experienced at navigating the workers comp system. We can manage your claim for you, freeing you up to focus on your recovery. We will put together the strongest case possible, including gathering evidence, compiling medical records, interviewing witnesses and hiring experts if necessary.
If you have sustained a work-related injury, illness or mental impairment, you deserve highly specialized representation. Let the workers compensation attorneys at Patterson Dahlberg help you with your workers compensation claim. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation to find out how we can work for you.