Emergency workers and first responders are the brave individuals first to respond to disastrous events. Their lives are often at stake as they serve, protect and save. They dedicate their lives to helping others, but many find their own mental health suffering as a result. Just as our nation’s soldiers and veterans battle the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), so do our first responders.
In Illinois, unless you work in the City of Chicago, if you are a fireman or police officer you are covered under workers’ compensation laws.
They are at a heightened risk for workplace injury given their exposure to physical and psychological hazards, often witnessing and experiencing a series of traumatic events and face work-related stress. Emergency workers and first responders who suffer from PTSD may be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits. Benefits can include disability, medical and maintenance benefits, mileage reimbursement and vocational rehabilitation.
Receiving full benefits may be challenging for a first responder suffering from PTSD. However, in late 2017 an Illinois appellate court ruled, for the first time in history, in favor for a fire lieutenant to receive benefits after experiencing PTSD from a fire with a death related incident.
The lieutenant’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits was not successful at first. He was initially relieved from his duties until cleared by a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder. It was argued he did not suffer a physical injury, did not witness the fatally injured firefighter get injured or die and was not involved in the rescue efforts, and therefore still was denied benefits.
First responders also of course get physical injuries. We’ve helped police officers who have hurt their legs while running after a suspect (torn ACL’s and Achilles are the big ones), firemen who have hurt their backs from all the gear that they have to wear and many EMT’s who are hurt lifting patients. Any physical injury while working would likely be covered.
We have worked with emergency workers throughout the State of Illinois to help them with their injury claims and of course would be happy to help you. If you’d like a free consultation please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.