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Connecticut Expands Workers Compensation Coverage For PTSD Claims

Posted by James Aspell | Mar 04, 2024 | 0 Comments

Are you or someone you know seeking a workers' compensation attorney in the Hartford, Connecticut area? The beginning of this year heralded an important expansion in Connecticut's workers' compensation benefits concerning post-traumatic stress injuries or disorders (PTSD).

Effective January 1, a new law (SB913) has broadened eligibility for benefits related to work-induced PTSD. Previously, only first responders could avail themselves of these benefits. Now, all employees under the workers' compensation law qualify if their PTSD is work-related.

This law extends coverage to all employees if a mental health professional diagnoses PTSD stemming from an event occurring during their employment. Qualifying events include witnessing traumatic incidents such as the death of a minor, witnessing fatalities or severe injuries, or providing immediate care to an injured person who subsequently passes away.

Similar to first responders, eligibility necessitates that the event significantly contributed to the injury and did not arise from disciplinary actions, job evaluations, or similar circumstances.

Regarding benefits, the new law maintains the same procedures and constraints applicable to PTSD benefits for first responders. Benefits are limited to 52 weeks and must be claimed within four years of the qualifying event. Employers contesting a claim for PTSD benefits follow a process akin to contesting other workers' compensation claims.

During legislative hearings in early 2013, labor unions and nursing professionals advocated for the law, emphasizing its importance in aiding injured workers. They highlighted instances where PTSD coverage could have been invaluable, such as the experiences of a school nurse during the Sandy Hook tragedy or police IT technicians witnessing the murder of colleagues.

The law's proponents underscored its strictness, as diagnoses must be made by licensed psychologists or psychiatrists. This support signifies a crucial step toward acknowledging and addressing the mental health challenges faced by workers.

However, concerns have been raised about the potential financial implications of this expansion. Insurers, businesses, and municipalities worry about increased costs, especially given the decline in workers' compensation rates and claims in recent years.

Critics caution that expanding benefits beyond first responders may strain the workers' compensation system and lead to higher premiums for employers. They argue that mental stress claims like PTSD are subjective and could be prone to abuse, potentially burdening the system further.

Moreover, the legislation's impact on small businesses and local governments is a point of contention. Opponents fear that these entities, already facing economic instability, will bear the brunt of the financial burden imposed by the expanded benefits.

In light of these debates, the decision to extend PTSD benefits to all employees in Connecticut reflects a complex balancing act between supporting injured workers and managing the financial ramifications for employers and municipalities.


About the Author

James Aspell

Principal since August 1, 2006 James F. Aspell is the principal and managing attorney of the firm which he started in 2006 following 20 years of litigation practice in a mid -size firm in Hartford, Connecticut. Jim focuses his practice in the areas of worker's compensation and personal injury l...


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