First Responder Eligibility for PTSD Workers Comp

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a growing issue in first responders – and obtaining worker’s compensation for the illness has historically been somewhat difficult. However, recent legislation passed in Washington has made the claims process for first responders with PTSD much easier.

If you or a loved one is a first responder who has been diagnosed with PTSD, contact Colburn Law today to discuss your case. We can assist you in your worker’s compensation claim and ensure that you receive the damages you are entitled to.

Why Choose Us?

Colburn Law is leading the charge on worker’s compensation claims for first responders suffering from PTSD in Washington.

  • We were one of the first law firms to successfully file an occupational disease PTSD claim in Washington on behalf of first responders.
  • Founder Greg Colburn has personal experience with the Washington worker’s compensation process, so he understands what needs to be done in order receive compensation.
  • We are client-focused, with a commitment to communication and transparency. We make sure to hear you out before proceeding with your filing, so that you receive the maximum possible compensation for your needs.

Worker’s Compensation Laws in Washington

In the state of Washington, all worker’s compensation claims are pursued under the Industrial Insurance Act. This law enables companies to pay into worker’s compensation insurance, so that when their employee suffers injuries on the job, the injured employee is able to receive medical and financial benefits for such injuries.

Although PTSD is covered under the Industrial Insurance Act, PTSD claims were eligible under a very narrow definition. According to the Industrial Insurance Act, PTSD was only covered if it was defined as an industrial injury – that the PTSD was caused by a single, sudden traumatic event. Those who suffered PTSD as a result of continuous chronic trauma were not eligible.

In 2018, Washington passed Senate Bill 6214, which modified that definition for first responders. The new legislation expanded the definition of PTSD to include occupational disease for first responders, which allowed first responders to file for industrial insurance on that basis.  Importantely, for first responders that have been in service for at least ten years, the new law creates a rebuttable presumption that diagnosed PTSD is a service-related occupational disease

Who is Eligible for a PTSD Claim?

Based on these new laws, you are eligible to file a PTSD claim if:

  • You are a first responder – a firefighter, emergency medical technician (EMT), law enforcement officer, emergency nurse, etc.; and,
  • You have been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of a single traumatic event; or,
  • You have been diagnosed with PTSD due to chronic stress and trauma from your job.

Are There Any Restrictions?

It’s important to note that there are still restrictions and limitations in place regarding PTSD claims for first responders.

  • If you have been diagnosed with PTSD on the basis of an occupational disease, you must have served for a minimum of ten years before the PTSD develops in order for the rebuttable presumption to apply.
  • If you have served for less than ten years at the time of your PTSD diagnosis, you can still make a claim for occupational disease; however, the rebuttable presumption will not apply.
  • Your claim may be denied if your PTSD was caused by any actions by your employer that were generally in good faith. This includes, any demotions, terminations, layoffs, disciplinary actions, or any related actions.

Additionally, there is a statute of limitations on PTSD claims.

  • If your PTSD is based on an industrial injury, you have one year from the date of the injury to apply.
  • If your PTSD is based on an occupational disease, you have two years from an official written notice by a physician.

Contact Us Today

Although legislation has thankfully made it is easier for first responders to obtain worker’s compensation benefits for  PTSD, it is still recommended to consult with an experienced attorney so that you have peace of mind when filing your claim. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation, and see how we can help you receive the compensation you deserve.


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