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With the passage of Senate Bill 59, acute stress disorder and PTSD are injuries covered by worker’s compensation in New Hampshire. A first response worker afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder may now file a claim for benefits to help with his or her recovery, as reported by the Carriage Towne News.

Law enforcement officials, firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians are usually the first individuals who arrive on the scene of catastrophic accidents. While trained in tending to injuries, wounds and disasters, first responders may nonetheless experience psychological trauma from carrying out their regular duties under extreme conditions.

PTSD requires medical attention

It is not uncommon for an individual to feel emotionally or physically exhausted after assisting others during a catastrophic event. Repeated exposure, however, may eventually wear an individual down regardless of his or her resilience. When the effects of the trauma linger on and prevent first responders from performing at their normal performance level, the symptoms of PTSD may be in evidence.

As noted by Psychology Today, symptoms of PTSD include extreme worry, recurrences of disturbing thoughts, and avoidance of people or places that serve as a reminder of a traumatic event. The challenge facing many first responders is admitting that they feel affected by the chaotic or dangerous situations that are part of their work. Because emergency professionals depend on remaining steadfast in the face of adversity, they may avoid seeking otherwise necessary medical treatment.

Filing workers’ comp claims

With the ability to apply for PTSD-related workers’ comp benefits, first responders may lawfully file a claim without any assumptions of stigma. It is unlawful for an employer to prevent or discourage an employee from filing a workers’ comp claim or threatening to fire someone for doing so. Harassing an employee who took time off from work to recover is also against the law.

Overall, employees may file a claim for benefits after sustaining on-the-job injuries, even when incurred during the line of duty while working under hazardous circumstances.