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State Senator

Julie Kushner

Representing Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, Sherman

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Sen. Kushner Supports PTSD Coverage for Police and Firefighters

After years of effort, legislature directs cities and towns to cover the effect of mental trauma on first responders

HARTFORD – After six years of effort, the state is finally providing Connecticut’s police officers and firefighters with workers’ compensation coverage for the emotional and mental injuries they suffer on the job after witnessing some particularly horrible trauma.

Senate Bill 164, “An Act Including Certain Mental or Emotional Impairments Within the Definition of Personal Injury Under the Workers’ Compensation Statutes,” passed the state Senate on a unanimous and bipartisan 35-0 vote, and passed the House of Representatives the next day. It now awaits Governor Lamont’s signature into law.

The bill expands the definition of ‘personal injury’ in state workers’ compensation laws to include a mental injury without an accompanying physical injury, as of July 1, 2019. The new provisions are expected to cover an estimated 36,000 state and local employees, including 26,800 firefighters, 8,180 police officers, 958 state police officers and 140 parole officers.

A bipartisan amendment was added to the bill which also requires the Labor and Public Employees Committee to examine the feasibility of expanding this workers’ comp definition to emergency medical services personnel and Department of Correction employees.

“It has been an incredible honor to be Senate Chair of the Labor Committee and to pass new laws that have a direct impact on the quality of working people’s lives, that will protect and help care for families. This bill will literally save the lives of some of our first responders,” Sen. Kushner said. “This bill is also an achievement in that it puts us on a path of covering even more emergency personnel. At some point I’d like to see these protections extended to all working people, because suffering and recovering from a trauma in the workplace is a potential for all employees.”

Workers’ compensation laws typically cover medical expenses and allow an employee to collect a portion of their paycheck for a certain time period if they suffer a physical injury on the job – say, a gunshot, a burn, or a broken leg. But worker’s compensation laws rarely provide coverage for the emotional or mental injuries a police officer or firefighter may suffer after experiencing a particularly harrowing scene, such as a mass shooting or a car accident.

SB 164 allows workers’ compensation benefits to be paid to police, volunteer or full-time firefighters, and parole officers diagnosed with PTSD and who experienced one of the six following events:

  • Witnessing the death of a person.
  • Witnessing an injury that causes the death of a person shortly thereafter.
  • Treating an injured person who dies shortly thereafter.
  • Carrying an injured person who dies shortly thereafter.
  • Viewing a deceased minor.
  • Witnessing an incident that causes a person to lose a body part, to suffer a loss of body function, or that results in permanent disfigurement.

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