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Can first responders receive compensation for PTSD?

First responders include police, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians. People in these professions have incredibly challenging jobs. They are also exposed to traumatizing events on a regular basis.

Because of the unique job conditions, many first responders experience mental health effects as a result. This includes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can have a drastic toll on your quality of life. The Florida Department of Financial Services explains how first responders may be eligible for workers’ compensation when experiencing the effects of PTSD.

Defining traumatizing events

First responders must have experienced a traumatizing event while carrying out their duties, and there are a number of situations that fall under the category of a traumatizing event. For example, witnessing a homicide would qualify as such as an event. So would witnessing a deceased person who has suffered grievous bodily harm. Caring for a person who dies during emergency treatment or before reaching the hospital also qualifies.

Situations involving minors are also deeply traumatic for emergency personnel. These include seeing a deceased minor, providing physical treatment to a seriously injured minor who dies, or witnessing the death or homicide of a minor. In this instance, a minor is any person under the age of 18.

How first responders can file claims

You must inform your employer of the traumatizing event within 52 weeks of it occurring. A licensed psychiatrist must diagnose you with PTSD. Your employer or your insurance company must authorize the psychiatrist providing the diagnosis.

Benefits for PTSD

If approved, you will receive coverage for any authorized medical care necessary to treat PTSD. You can also receive indemnity benefits, or compensation for lost wages.

You can appeal denied claims. To do so, you must file a Petition for Benefits with the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims to initiate the appeals process.