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Controversy over South Carolina PTSD Disability Compensation

The Anastopoulo Law Firm

Workers’ compensation is a valuable resource for employees who are injured or become ill while on the job or during the course of their employment. It ensures injured workers receive the medical care and attention they need while providing reimbursement for lost wages and temporary or permanent disabilities. Dangerous situations can exist in any type of job, and while on-the-job accidents and injuries are often thought of as physical in nature, your mental health and well-being can be impacted as well. While there is no disputing the fact that workers who have witnessed acts of violence and fatal accidents on the job can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath, there is some debate on whether this type of illness should be covered by workers’ compensation.

Job Related PTSD

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PTSD generally involves an intense physical or emotional reaction to witnessing or being exposed to events that are traumatic in nature, such as severe accidents, acts of violence, or circumstances that pose a threat to the person themselves or to others. Those involved in or witnessing these events may feel overwhelmed by a sense or horror or fear and left with a lingering feeling of grief or depression that remains long after the actual incident occurred. The CDC states that symptoms of PTSD include the following:

  • Reliving an experience through flashbacks
  • Panic attacks and increased signs of stress at certain triggers that remind you of the incident
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia and nightmares
  • Feeling isolated and alone
  • Lack of concentration and inability to perform daily tasks
  • Feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts

These symptoms can interfere with your day to day activities and interactions with family members and loved ones while making it difficult or impossible to perform even simple duties required on your job.

Opposition Against Providing Workers’ Compensation PTSD Benefits

Under Section 42-1-160 of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, workers who suffer from PTSD and other mental health conditions may be eligible for benefits, provided they occur along with a physical injury or arise out of extraordinary or unusual circumstances that are not commonly a part of their job. To avoid paying benefit claims, your employer may attempt to downplay your symptoms and the extent of your injuries or dispute the conditions under which they occurred.

While traumatic events can occur in any occupation, first responders and emergency personnel are often exposed to these types of situations on a daily basis. An April 2016 Post and Courier article on workers’ compensation for PTSD reports that, while lawmakers have proposed a bill validating the need for benefit coverage among first responders, there has been opposition from some parties who claim that dealing with traumatic events is a part of their job and that these employees should seek coverage through their health insurance coverage instead. While people such as police or fire officials and EMS workers may be covered for PTSD under the state health insurance policy, they would still be required to pay for out-of-pocket costs, such as co-pays and deductibles. Providing workers’ compensation benefits may be a better way of helping to ensure they get the medical help they need while helping to ensure their family is provided for during their recovery.

Get Help From a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you or someone you care about is physically injured or suffers a mental health condition while on the job, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm immediately. Our experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys can advise you on the best course of action, helping to protect your rights and assisting you in getting the compensation you are entitled to.

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