On Monday, Nebraska's lawmakers voted unanimously to allow the first responders who have been diagnosed with mental illness or injury as a result of their jobs to have access to workers' compensation.
Nebraska Bill LB 963, introduced by Republican sen. Tom Brewer, would revise the state statute for employee compensation to provide workers with compensation for first responders when a mental health professional determines the medical cause between the mental injury or illness and the first respondent's employment conditions. At present, mental injuries are not compensatory in the state for first responders if they are not accompanied by a physical injury.
According to the bill, a first responder will be able to establish a prima facie case of a personal injury that is a mental injury or mental illness if they can show that they underwent a mental health examination upon admission, present testimony from a mental health professional stating that the first the respondent suffers from a mental injury or illness caused by one or more events that led to the need for medical attention or interruption of employment, that the events were linked to the first respondent's employment and that the first respondent had participated in annual resilience training.
First responders are defined as law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency physicians, and workers for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services or the Department of Health and Human Services whose duties include regular and direct interaction with high-risk individuals.
The bill would also require the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to reimburse the first responders for the costs of annual resilience training if they are not reimbursed by the worker's employer and would also tie the payment of funeral expenses for first responders in the state killed at work to consumer.