In some lines of work, there are certain injury and health risks one takes on as part of the job. For example, first responders face a variety of situations which can put strain upon their lungs and heart. Because of this, many states have passed laws which presume that first responders who suffer from heart or lung problems have those health problems because of their line of work.

Now, several states are considering expanding their workers compensation presumption laws for government employees to encompass other illnesses and conditions. In particular, the suggestion is to include mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder coverage, as well as coverage for various forms of cancer. The urge to expand coverage of these conditions is, unsurprisingly, not welcomed by all, with some pointing out that it wouldn’t be fair to require the state to pay for conditions that could have developed apart from work.

Expanding the presumption laws for workers compensation is likely going to be an uphill battle in many places where this is considered a possibility, simply because of the costs of doing so. In addition, some states already provide first responders with some protections outside the workers compensation system. Pennsylvania is one of those states.

Public employees, like other employees, have the right to receive compensation when they are injured on the job. It is important for public employees to understand their rights when it comes to workers compensation and not assume they will be covered without advocating for themselves. In cases where benefits are not forthcoming, it can help greatly to work with an experienced attorney. 

Source: Business Insurance, “States consider expanding workers comp presumption law for public employees,” Stephanie Goldberg, June 8, 2014.