First Responder Rights to Psychiatric Care under the Florida Workers’s Compensation System
Your department’s de-briefing team or staff psychologist may be giving you the wrong information about your rights to mental health care as a Florida First Responder. This just happened to a prospective client who was told after 3 EAP visits he was not entitled to any more care… despite the fact he was diagnosed with PTDS as a result of a shooting indident.
Florida First Responders have unique injuries and occupational disease which can cause mental and nervous injuries.
The Florida Legislature acknowledged the extreme stress endured by its First Responders by enacting Section 112.185, Florida Statutes, which provides enhanced medical and lost wage benefits for certain situations:
If you suffer a mental or nervous injury as a result of a physical injury, you are entitled to the payment of lost wages for temporary total and/or temporary partial disability benefits. Injured workers who are not first responders are limited to payments of temporary benefits of 104 weeks and limited to a 1% permanent psychiatric impairment Benefits regardless of what the doctor says the permanent psychiatric impairment might be. This in NOT applicable to first responders.
Injured workers who are not First Responders are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for a psychiatric conditions unless there is a physical injury. The Florida legislature treats First Responders differently!
For a mental or nervous injury unaccompanied by a physical injury, only medical benefits under Section 440.13, F.S., are payable for the mental or nervous injury. Lost wages are not paid. This is a significant change in Florida law.
Florida First Responders who suffer post traumatic stress without physical injury are now entitled to medical care through workers’ compensation. If your employer is not providing you with the Florida Workers’ Compensation benefits you are entitled to contact attorney Nancy Cavey, who handles First Responder claims personnally through out the state of Florida.
Answering these broad-based questions isn’t easy. Help is a phone call away. You can contact Nancy Cavey, an experienced long-term disability attorney at 727-894-3188.