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Bill Would Cover PTSD For First Responders

Pulse memorial
Matthew Peddie
/
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

First responders who get post-traumatic stress disorder on the job soon may be eligible for more workers compensation benefits.

Gainesville Republican Senator Keith Perry filed a bill that would allow coverage for PTSD with a psychiatrist’s diagnosis, which staffers said would give them the ability to claim lost wages.

Attorney Paolo Longo has been representing several first responders with PTSD since the Pulse Night Club shooting. He said the current system forces first responders with PTSD to go back to work.

“If you’re a first responder, you are allowed to claim a mental injury without physical injury, but if you can’t work, you don’t get paid,” Longo said. “So basically they can get a doctor or medical care, but they don’t get paid.”

Longo said the bill filed doesn’t add to the current system, and makes the burden of proving PTSD “very. very difficult.”

Perry’s bill is the first of several expected to be filed. It comes as the Florida Legislature looks to revamp workers compensation laws after courts struck down limits on attorney’s fees.

 

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Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.