The House Committee on Business and Industry recently heard testimony regarding several workers’ comp-related bills. Of note, some members of the committee seemed particularly sympathetic to measures that would help first responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Some of those bills include:
- House Bill 1983, submitted by State Rep. John Wray (R-Waxahachie). This bill would allow firefighters and peace officers to receive workers’ comp benefits after responding to traumatic events. This bill was filed in response to last year’s tragedy in Dallas, where a shooter killed five police officers and injured nine more.
- House Bill 2082, submitted by State Rep. Dustin Borroughs (R-Lubbock). This bill would establish a liaison to assist first responders in the potentially lengthy process of disputing workers’ comp claims.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is woefully underreported among first responders. This is in some part due to the stigma associated with mental health claims. The prevalence of the condition can be seen in the suicide rates for police officers and firefighters in Texas. According to the deputy executive director Mitch Landry of the Texas Municipal Police Association, more officers took their own lives in 2015 than were killed on-duty and in car accidents. In the last year and a half, six Texas firefighters ended their own lives.
As advocates for victims of workplace accidents and trauma, we applaud efforts to safeguard the rights of injured workers and help them receive the assistance and benefits they need to move forward with their lives.