Lousiana Emergency Responders, PTSD, and Workers’ Compensation
According to some research, about a third of emergency responders struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This means that these workers have a much higher incidence of PTSD than people in the general population.
Almost all emergency responders experience symptoms like flashbacks and hypervigilance after they are directly exposed to trauma, witness a traumatic event, or hear about a traumatic event that affected a close friend. If these symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, or they get worse instead of better, the responder probably has PTSD.
As outlined below, a Jackson workers’ compensation attorney can usually obtain compensation for emergency responders struggling with work-related PTSD. This compensation usually includes medical bill payment and wage replacement. PTSD victims usually need both these benefits. Treatment for this condition is quite extensive, and many responders are unable to work until their symptoms improve.
PTSD: The Injury
Contrary to popular myth, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not a processing disorder which randomly affects some people who are dealing with traumatic events. Rather, exposure to such stress creates a chemical imbalance in the brain.
For reasons that are not entirely clear, stress shrinks the cerebral cortex. This part of the brain controls logical responses to stressful events. When the cerebral cortex shrinks, the amygdala expands. This part of the brain controls emotional responses to stressful events.
Think about a horse and rider. A strong rider can control even the wildest horse. But if the rider is impaired, for whatever reason, the horse breaks away.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a physical brain injury. As such, the injury itself is permanent. However, the symptoms are treatable through a combination of drugs and therapy.
Recent studies suggest that MDMA, which is basically the same drug as Ecstasy or Molly, could restore the proper chemical balance after only a few doses. In late 2019, the Food and Drug Administration green-lighted expanded clinical MDMA/PTSD trials. Hopefully, this drug therapy will soon be widely available.
On the other hand, brain injury therapy is usually a long-term commitment, and PTSD therapy is no exception. In fact, research suggests that the longer the therapy lasts, the more progress the victim makes. PTSD therapy usually includes counselling as well as active therapy, like art therapy, to help these victims develop healthier mental habits and coping skills.
A work-related triggering event is usually the key to obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. Running into a burning building or confronting an armed suspect are obviously stressful situations. So is witnessing such events.
Not everyone who goes through such traumatic experiences develops PTSD or even post traumatic stress. Genetic makeup and pre-existing conditions have a lot to do with who develops what symptoms.
By the time long-term PTSD symptoms appear, the workers’ compensation claims deadline has usually passed. However, because of the discovery rule, victims do not have a legal obligation to file claims until their symptoms become fully apparent and they connect those symptoms to a work-related event.
Reach Out to an Experienced Attorney
Emergency responders must often deal with PTSD. For a free consultation with an experienced Jackson workers’ compensation attorney, contact Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe, PLLC. We routinely handle matters in Louisiana and Mississippi.