Georgia Bill Granting Comp Benefits for Mental Stress for Responders Dies
A plan to make mental stress a compensable condition for Georgia’s first responders never made it out of committee in the Georgia General Assembly.
House Bill 855, sponsored by Rep. Gregg Kennard and others, would have made emergency workers who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, without an accompanying physical injury. Georgia law currently requires PTSD to be triggered by a physical, compensable injury.
PTSD medical treatment and time off work has become a top priority for first responders around the country, who are exposed to traumatic scenes almost on a daily basis and who have seen suicide rates escalate in recent years. The majority of U.S. states now provide some comp benefits for PTSD, but most of those states require an accompanying physical injury. Only about nine states now provide compensation for mental-only injuries, according to Gerber & Holder, a claimants’ law firm in Atlanta.
Kennard’s bill was assigned to the House Industry and Labor Committee but it did not receive a vote and now the legislative “crossover” deadline for action on bills was Tuesday. A similar version in the Senate also has stalled in committee. The Georgia General Assembly is set to adjourn April 4.
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