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Police Eligible for PTSD Claims



A Florida appeals court said a police officer who filed a claim for post-traumatic stress disorder after responding to a school shooting was eligible for benefits because the incident occurred before a change in state law, but his disability did not begin until he was placed on administrative leave.

The appellant was a police officer for the city of Hallandale Beach who was among the officers who responded to the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, according to No. 1D21-2138filed Nov. 30 in the Florida Court of Appeals for the 1st District.

While helping to clear students and secure the building, police saw the bodies of the victims, including teenagers. He was placed on administrative leave in November 201

8 after he began experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

He was eventually placed on light duty and subsequently fired around January 2022. The officer filed multiple claims for restitution and medical benefits under the Florida law, which went into effect eight months after the shooting — on Oct. 1, 2018 — and now allows first responders to receive benefits for mental stress injuries that are not accompanied by a physical injury.

The employer argued that the accident date for his damages occurred on the day of the shooting, which was before the law changed. The officer argued that the date of disability is the rule, and that the date of disability should be the day he was granted leave, which was after the law was changed.

A claims judge agreed with the officer and found the date of the accident to be in November 2018 when he was on administrative leave.

The Florida Court of Appeals for the 1st District affirmed, rejecting the city’s argument that the controlling date of the accident should have been the date of exposure to the event that caused PTSD.

The “P” in PTSD stands for “post,” the court wrote. “By its very name, PTSD cannot occur until sometime after a traumatic event occurs.”

WorkCompCentral is a sister magazine to Business Insurance. More stories here.


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