When the Minnesota legislature opened the 2017 session, a crucial bill that directly affects Minnesota’s first responders who suffer from PTSD was re-introduced. This bill was originally presented in April of 2016, and did not pass at that time although information has been communicated and much awareness has been raised about this important topic.
Meuser Law Office, P.A. understands the importance of legislature such as this and created a petition in April 2016 to help spread the word and gather support for this bill. We encourage all current and former law enforcement officers, firefighters, State Troopers, first responders, and family and friends of Minnesota's first responders to sign and share this petition and/or contact their legislators to urge them to support this important bill.
The bill’s author, Senator-elect Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, is also a police officer in Cottage Grove. Senator-elect Schoen recently called a meeting in the Senate Office Building to hear from Minnesotans affected by PTSD. Among the people who spoke was St. Paul firefighter and paramedic, Brian Cristofono. Brian, a current client of Meuser Law Office, P.A., says fire departments need to talk about PTSD more and take this issue more seriously. “We spend so much time learning how to save ourselves, how to rescue people, but we don’t give any training time to PTSD or mental health”.
Recently, KSTP Channel 5 Eyewitness News ran a story on this PTSD bill featuring Minnesotans directly affected by PTSD, including Brian Cristofono. Take a moment to watch the KSTP Eyewitness News story with emotions ranging from sad to tragic:
Continue reading the original article from our blog site below:
New Bill Seeks to Help First Responders with PTSD
This week, the Minnesota legislature issued a News Release announcing the introduction of a bill that could have major implications for Minnesota’s first responders who suffer from PTSD.
Since October 1, 2013, the Minnesota workers’ compensation law has recognized post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a “covered” injury for purposes of workers’ compensation law. In the 2 ½ years since the law passed, in our practice, we have unfortunately seen some workers’ compensation insurers take a “full court press” approach to defending against these cases – many involving police officers, firefighters, and corrections officers. We have seen cases where a police officer clearly and obviously suffers from profound PTSD as the result of terrible trauma, and yet the workers’ compensation insurer denies that it was “traumatic enough” of an event, or hires an adverse doctor to offer an outrageous opinion that the person doesn’t have PTSD.
This week, Rep. Dan Schoen (DFL – St. Paul Park) and Sen. Matt Schmit (DFL – Red Wing) introduced a bill that would include post-traumatic stress disorder under the “presumption” section of the Workers’ Compensation Act – meaning that post-traumatic stress disorder would be “presumed” to be work-related for some specific first responders, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, conservation officers, and others.
While PTSD is currently covered under Minnesota Workers’ Compensation, this statute would change the burden of proof – meaning that it would no longer be the employee’s burden of proof to demonstrate that he or she has PTSD and that it is work-related – it becomes the employer/insurer’s burden of proof to disprove that the individual’s PTSD is work-related.
Seeing the practical realities of how PTSD claims are administered by some public employers, we at Meuser Law Office, P.A., are hopeful that this presumption statute will it easier for our state’s first responders to get the benefits they are entitled to under the law.
Representative Schoen commented that “It really just comes down to we’re at the point where there is just zero question whether this is a work-related injury…we know it is.”
Schoen, a Cottage Grove police officer, said police and firefighters have told him of their experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder. Public agencies send first responders into the “worst of the worst,” he said, and those experiences build over time.
“Everybody’s got a bucket and that bucket might be different sizes for different people, but it starts to fill up,” Schoen said.
Schoen and Schmit said they don’t expect their bill to pass this session. The GOP-controlled House has not scheduled a hearing, Schoen said. Instead, they want to hold an information hearing yet this session to raise awareness.
We at Meuser Law Office, P.A., have created a petition for you to easily show your support for this legislation. Click here to read and sign the petition. We encourage all current and former law enforcement officers, firefighters, State Troopers, first responders, and family and friends of Minnesota's first responders to sign and share this petition and/or contact their legislators to urge them to support this important bill.
Meuser Law Office, P.A., has proudly represented Minnesota's first responders for PTSD-related claims for over a decade. We encourage all current and former law enforcement officers, firefighters, State Troopers, first responders, and family and friends of Minnesota's first responders to contact their legislators to urge them to support this important bill.
Click here to find contact information for your state representatives.