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Mental Health And Workers’ Compensation for First Responders

January 15th, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Chicago PTSD workers' compensation lawyerPost-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is often associated with soldiers returning from war, but it is also something that first responders can develop due to traumatic experiences at work. First responders are a broad category of people who work as firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and similar professions. With these jobs, workers are exposed to high levels of stress and trauma that most people are not accustomed to. In some cases, they may not have been personally affected by trauma, but are present for disturbing events, and this can have negative effects on their emotional health, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

After a person has witnessed or experienced a traumatic event, they may develop a mental health condition in which they struggle to deal with the emotional trauma that is affecting them. Those who suffer from PTSD often experience nightmares, anxiety, and flashbacks to the event. Immediately after a traumatic experience, people may have a hard time adjusting to their regular life, but the onset of PTSD can happen at any time after the incident.

Although first responders’ work can take a mental toll, they may also experience physical harm such as broken bones, burns, gunshot wounds, sprains, and joint injuries. These injuries can also lead to PTSD, and workers’ compensation may be needed for mental health treatment in addition to the treatment for physical injuries.

How to Identify Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Unlike a physical wound, mental health disorders are not always obvious. Sometimes, it takes a loved one to realize something is wrong. Being mindful of your mental health as a first responder may help you realize that you are suffering because of a traumatic experience.

Additional symptoms of PTSD include avoidance, detachment, depression, irritability, guilt, self-destructive actions, and insomnia. However, the symptoms can vary wildly for people diagnosed with PTSD, so it is important to be aware of any emotional issues you may be experiencing.

Getting Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation should cover the costs of treatment for PTSD related to experiences which occurred while on the job. For example, an Illinois firefighter received workers’ compensation benefits after developing PTSD following the death of another firefighter. Although the plaintiff was not in the dangerous house, it was ruled that he did not need to be among the flames to be disturbed by the death of one of his own.

Getting compensated for job-related mental health disorders is often less straightforward than a physical injury. When it comes to certain jobs, it could be argued that experiencing trauma is something a person voluntarily signed up for. However, mental health disorders can affect one’s ability to work safely in stressful conditions, and workers should not only receive the treatment they need, but they should have that treatment covered by worker’s comp benefits.

Contact a Cook County Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Mental health is an essential part of your well-being, and when that is disturbed due to a traumatic event at work, you deserve to be compensated. Get in touch with an experienced Chicago workers’ comp lawyer who will advocate on your behalf to help you receive the benefits you deserve. Call our office at 630-574-2288 to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.alcohol.org/professions/first-responders/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967

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