When we are injured or need help in some form of accident like a vehicle crash, a house fire, or some other event, first responders come to the scene to investigate and help those in need.
Some events may include simple injuries like cuts and bruises while others may be traumatic events where a child has died or a person has a catastrophic injury such as a severed limb. Every situation is different but first responders show up to handle the situation no matter how great or small.
Much like any other humans that experience a traumatic event, first responders can be deeply affected. Although these responders are trained to help in these situations, it is difficult to prepare oneself for the psychological effects that may occur after seeing something especially gruesome or being involved in a life or death instance.
Because of issues like those mentioned, a group of bipartisan South Carolina Senators have sponsored a bill that would extend Worker's Compensation benefits to first responders that are diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.)
At the present time, Worker's Compensation benefits are provided if the event is considered "unusual or extraordinary." The senators argue that just because first responders are trained to help with accidents doesn't mean they are more equipped to emotionally handle the effects of traumatic events.
Lead sponsor of the bill, Senator Paul Thurmond was quoted by Bluffton Today as saying, "every single event that occurs for law enforcement in my opinion is automatically unusual or extraordinary. You respond to a fire where people are burned up. You respond to an accident where somebody has been decapitated....But because they had training in regards to that, they are deemed to be super human … and not have a mental breakdown."
The bill says that first responders who seek Worker's Compensation for PTSD must have been directly involved in a traumatic event. The group proposing the bill want these responders to get better treatment that is specific to their condition instead of general counseling.
Senator Thurmond believes that the taxpayers will either pay now or pay later, and by taking care of a worker's condition now could keep them from making potential mistakes in the future that are a result of the PTSD. The example he gives to Bluffton Today is the case where a South Carolina police officer mistakenly shot someone when he thought they were reaching for a gun. That officer suffered from PTSD.
In regards to the taxpayers paying now or later, the bill would affect the State Accident Fund. The writers of the bill could not give an exact amount of the costs because the costs would be dependant on the amount of cases filed.
As of now, the bill is on the Senate's contested calendar which may mean it will not be heard or passed within the next four weeks although proponents of the bill feel it will be very beneficial to those first responders who help the community year long.
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at your job you can speak with a workers' compensation lawyer. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.