Workers’ Compensation PTSD Presumption for Police OfficersPolice officers and other first responders in New York often have frightening or stressful work experiences. Those experiences can result in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious mental health disorder.

A “PTSD presumption” for police officers and similar workers essentially holds that because these types of jobs can easily cause PTSD, a police officer who is diagnosed with PTSD is presumed to have developed it as a result of their service.

There currently is no PTSD for police officers and other first responders in New York. That may change in the near future.

What is the Labor Code for PTSD Presumption in New York?

While New York has yet to enact such legislation, the labor codes in some states contain statutes or provisions regarding PTSD and workers’ comp for police officers. Consider the example of California, where Labor Code Labor Code §3212.15 assumes that police officers who develop PTSD do so because of their jobs. This law also applies to others with stressful occupations, like firefighters.

That means a police officer or similar professional who develops PTSD may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. They aren’t automatically guaranteed benefits, as employers and insurers can still defend claims.

However, the burden of proof has shifted. The law in California requires employers or insurers to prove a qualifying worker developed PTSD due to a condition that’s not work-related. 

New York doesn’t currently have such a law on the books. However, two bills are in progress that could change that.

What is the Presumption of PTSD in New York?

Workers’ Compensation PTSD Presumption for Police OfficersNew York lawmakers introduced Assembly Bill A5135 in 2023. As of this writing, the bill is still in Committee Assembly. 

 Here are some provisions of the bill to be aware of:

  • Similar to the California law, the law would presume police officers and other first responders who develop PTSD do so because of their work.
  • The bill would also require police officers and emergency medical services workers to undergo pre-employment mental health screenings. These screenings would be part of other medical examinations these workers regularly undergo.

Pre-employment mental health screenings would serve several purposes. According to the current text of the bill, one purpose would be to identify PTSD. 

For example, perhaps a pre-employment screening for a new police officer results in a PTSD diagnosis. Thus, there would not be a presumption that the officer developed PTSD as a result of their work. If a pre-screening didn’t result in a PTSD diagnosis, the PTSD presumption would apply to a future diagnosis.

The law would also require employers to cover the cost of medical treatment for PTSD in qualifying workers. An employer could avoid this requirement only if a court determines the PTSD presumption doesn’t apply.

Another bill NY lawmakers introduced in 2023 is Senate Bill 3367. This bill is in Committee Senate as of this writing. It applies to the following workers:

  • Police officers
  • Correction officers
  • Firefighters
  • Other emergency services personnel

As with the Assembly bill, the Senate bill would create a presumption that qualifying workers who receive a PTSD diagnosis developed the condition through their employment. Employers and insurers would have to show a worker received a PTSD diagnosis due to factors outside of work to defend a claim.

The act would amend the existing workers’ compensation law in New York. Per the current language, the bill would allow qualifying workers to seek workers’ comp benefits even if they receive a PTSD diagnosis after leaving their jobs. As long as they receive a diagnosis within three years of having worked in a qualifying role, they may receive benefits.

It’s important to understand that this overview only applies to the proposed bills in their current forms. The language of the bills can and may change before they’re passed, if that ever happens.

Contact a New York Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

There may not yet be a workers’ compensation PTSD presumption for police officers in New York. That doesn’t mean there won’t be. At Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C., we will be monitoring the progress of these bills to find out if they become law. If they do, we will be ready to help police officers and other emergency personnel pursue the workers’ compensation benefits they’re entitled to.

Remember, even if the bills pass, seeking workers’ comp benefits for PTSD may still prove challenging. An insurer or employer might attempt to avoid paying you by arguing that something aside from work caused your PTSD. This is one of many reasons to strongly consider enlisting a lawyer’s help when applying for workers’ comp.

You’ve sacrificed so much in your high-stress career. Learn more about how a New York workers’ compensation lawyer withFusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. can now help you by contacting us online or calling us at 516-496-0400 for a free case review.

Categories: Workers' Compensation

Last Updated : April 19, 2024
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