Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental condition frequently associated with the military.
But in reality, it’s a broad spectrum mental health issue where a number of people who have experienced trauma can be formally diagnosed.
With that in mind, can you collect workers’ comp for PTSD if the symptoms inhibit your ability to do your job or stay employed?
The short answer is yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
PTSD in the workplace
The most common examples of workplace PTSD would be a police officer who witnessed or participated in a shooting.
Maybe a teacher at a school that was the target of a shooting, or first responders in a similar situation.
Examples could be broadened to include any incident where one is exposed to death, actual or threatened, or a bad accident or sexual violence.
But each state’s laws have different nuances and a common one is what we’ll call the “normal line of duty” exception.
That is, the triggering event must come outside the normal course of activity that should be reasonably expected from the job.
The schoolteacher who witnesses a shooting is probably still covered here, but the police officers and first responders in such a case might not be.
Someone held hostage in an office would still be covered, but the responding police probably won’t be.
The phrase “they knew the risks” applies here, although given the alarming increase in incidents like school shootings, some states—notably Florida—are loosening these restrictions, given the grave shock to the conscience that can occur.
Furthermore, symptoms of PTSD must be directly correlated to the workplace incident.
Quite often sufferers of PTSD have had other mental health struggles and thus making the linkage to the workplace incident won’t be a slam-dunk.
This is particularly true given that symptoms might not appear until months after the fact, meaning a delay in treatment.
If you suffer from PTSD, seek professional help immediately and consult a lawyer if you think it’s traceable to your employment.