South Carolina’s workers’ compensation statute allows certain workers injured in the course of their employment to recover compensation for their injuries. Workers’ compensation requires employers to provide reasonable income and medical benefits to work-related accident victims, or income benefits to their dependents, regardless of fault. These payments cover the cost will costs of surgery, hospitalization, medical supplies, prosthetic devices, and prescriptions. What’s more, injured workers are also entitled to receive weekly compensation benefits to cover the loss of wages as a result of a work-related accident.
Recovering Compensation for Stress, Mental Injury, or Mental Illness
Certain types of injuries or diseases, however, are excluded from coverage under workers’ compensation. Normally, stress, mental injuries, and mental illness arising out of and in the course of employment unaccompanied by physical injury and resulting in mental illness or injury are not considered a personal injury under the Act. For these types of injuries to be recoverable, the employee must establish beyond a preponderance of evidence:
(1) that the employee’s employment conditions causing the stress, mental injury, or mental illness were extraordinary and unusual in comparison to the normal conditions of the particular employment; and
(2) the medical causation between the stress, mental injury, or mental illness, and the stressful employment conditions by medical evidence.
For some, this standard can make it difficult to recover workers’ compensation for stress, mental injury, or mental illness suffered during the course of employment. A recent bill proposed in the South Carolina legislature, however, seeks to make it easier for at least one group of employees who suffer this type of injury.
Bill Proposed to Provide PTSD Coverage for First Responders
Sen. Paul Thurmond, R- Charleston, has recently proposed a bill that would extend workers’ compensation to first responders diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Under the current law, first responders seeking workers’ compensation must establish that the event was extraordinary and unusual in comparison to the normal conditions of the particular employment. Under the proposed bill, however, first responders diagnosed suffering stress, mental injury, or mental illness from work would have to only establish involvement in a significant traumatic experience or situation, without regard to whether it was extraordinary or unusual.
Sen. Paul Thurmond, lead sponsor of the bill said that “we need to be properly taking care of those that are taking care of us.” And he believes that “every single event that occurs for law enforcement in my opinion is automatically unusual or extraordinary.” Conversely, Sen. Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster, said the bill is “basically writing a blank check” and thinks that there may be better options available. Currently, the bill is on the Senate’s contested calendar for further review and consideration.
Contact a Greenville, South Carolina Work Accident Attorney
If you have suffered a work-related injury, David R. Price, Jr. is an experienced Greenville workers’ compensation attorney who can help you protect your legal rights. Contact David R. Price, Jr. for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. You can call the office today at 864.271.2636 or visit the office at 318 West Stone Avenue in Greenville.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.