Are you a Florida First Responder? What You Need to Know About Florida SB 376, Workers’ Compensation Benefits for First Responders
In general, most employees are entitled to protections when they sustain an injury on the job through worker’s compensation insurance coverage. Some states, such as Florida, go one step beyond that regarding the risks or injuries associated with certain professions.
Read on to learn more about what you need to know if you’re a first responder who suffers an injury on the job in Monroe, Broward, Palm Beach, or Miami-Dade counties. Florida SB 376 is the law that outlines your protections and how to proceed with getting benefits by leveraging the resources of a West Palm Beach workers comp lawyer.
As Workers’ Compensation lawyers can tell you, the process of applying for benefits is not always straightforward. You deserve the support of an attorney who can help you navigate this situation.
Who is Covered by Florida SB 376?
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics, firefighters, and law enforcement officers face risks on the job every day. In these uncertain environments, it’s more common to suffer injuries related to work duties. These include mental, emotional, and physical injuries. All of these workers could receive medical benefits for PTSD and indemnity for job-related accidents, even when there’s no immediate bodily injury.
As a result, this law is often referred to as the “Florida first responders PTSD bill.” This law has been effective since 2018 and continues to support the rights of Florida first responders who have PTSD from an on-the-job incident.
PTSD and First Responders
The life of a first responder in West Palm Beach is stressful, unpredictable, and at times, overwhelming. First responders arrive on the scene of an accident or event for which they have little context or ability to predict the severity or outcome. As a result, first responders can step into traumatic and troubling scenes on the job every single day, which is why this critical bill enables them to access benefits for PTSD they develop from those circumstances.
The pressure faced by first responders is serious. Government estimates show that up to 30% of this workforce face some kind of behavioral health condition, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
Signs of PTSD
It can be challenging for workers to differentiate between regular stress and the impacts of PTSD at first. However, several symptoms warn a first responder that they might have developed PTSD and should seek medical help for more support.
Signs of PTSD include:
- Intrusive memories recurring regularly that can make daily life or work difficult
- Trying to avoid thinking about the event
- Feeling hopeless about the future
- Negative thinking or changes in mood
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Getting startled easily
It’s important to note that the intensity of symptoms a person with PTSD suffers can worsen over time. Immediately after the inciting incident, a worker might assume these symptoms will disappear or get better. A common side effect of PTSD is that these can increase in frequency or severity, so continue to monitor your conditions and how much they’re disrupting your daily life.
Seeking medical treatment can help put you on the path to recovery and serve as the foundation for filing for benefits with the help of a worker’s compensation lawyer.
SB 376 Benefits for FL First Responders
Any of the above-mentioned workers who develop PTSD from work can access worker’s compensation benefits. If any Florida first responder is on a call in which they witness a death due to grievous bodily harm or the death of a minor and they suffer from PTSD as a result, worker’s compensation benefits are available to that worker.
In the past, little to no protections were available to these front-line workers when a scene at their job caused them to develop PTSD. Some took time off in the form of unpaid leave to address their conditions, harming their income, families, and well-being. First responders through FL SB 376 can now get professional services to help with PTSD without the added concern of having to resign their position. Worker’s compensation benefits can assist with the payment of lost wages for their time spent obtaining treatment.
Do You Need a Worker’s Compensation Lawyer?
Even though the benefits and terms of SB 376 are relatively straightforward, it can be a difficult situation for a worker afflicted with PTSD to apply for worker’s compensation benefits entirely alone. The system can be confusing, and even minor mistakes on paperwork can lead to delays or even denials.
A Florida first responder who has already witnessed a traumatic scene does not need more stress to deal with; this is where a Palm Beach worker’s compensation lawyer comes in to assist with the preparation of an application or appealing a denial. If you have missed time at work and lost wages because of it, you’re entitled to benefits under Florida SB 376. Contact DiBiaggio Law today at (561) 473-9800 for a free consultation to learn more about your rights and your next steps. Our experienced legal team serves clients in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties.
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DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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