Missouri has taken a significant step forward in acknowledging and supporting the sacrifices of our first responders. A new law now recognizes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a legitimate reason for workers’ compensation among this brave cohort.
The Silent Struggles of Our Heroes
While their heroism is often celebrated, the emotional toll on first responders goes largely unseen. According to the Institutes of Health, over 80% of first responders confront traumatic events during their duties, with nearly one-third developing PTSD. Their battles are not always visible, manifesting internally as they process the often harrowing events they witness daily.
Missouri’s Bold Move
With the signing of Senate Bill 24 by Governor Mike Parson, Missouri now stands among the few states recognizing the severity of PTSD among first responders. This bill does not just offer acknowledgment but tangible support, allowing first responders like police officers, firefighters, and EMTs to access compensation benefits if their PTSD can be traced back to job-related incidents.
Crucially, this compensation isn’t contingent on a physical injury. It recognizes that trauma, even when not physically apparent, is debilitating and real.
Who Stands to Benefit?
Under the new law, for a first responder to claim compensation for PTSD, specific criteria must be met. These include witnessing the demise of a minor, encountering someone sustain a severe injury that “shocks the conscience”, observing any death while on duty, or being involved in incidents potentially leading to significant physical harm.
Moreover, this progressive bill officially categorizes 911 dispatchers as first responders. A long overdue acknowledgment for the unseen frontline workers who shoulder immense stress during emergencies.
What Does This Mean for First Responders?
In essence, the clock for claims starts ticking either from the time of the traumatic exposure or the PTSD diagnosis. Claims should be filed within 52 weeks following the incident or diagnosis.
At OnderLaw, we’ve always championed the rights of those who put their lives and well-being on the line for our community. This new legislation is a testament to the fact that our society is slowly but surely recognizing the immense sacrifices first responders make.
PTSD is not a sign of weakness. It’s a testament to the battles our first responders face daily. This new law is a beacon of hope and support for them. If you or someone you know is a first responder grappling with PTSD, remember: You’re not alone, and your state, and OnderLaw, stand by you. Reach out today for a free, no-obligation consultation.