Connecticut’s workers’ compensation system was set up to provide benefits for workers who are injured in on-the-job accidents or who are sickened by on-the-job exposure to toxic chemicals. One of the hallmarks of the system is the way it puts types of injuries into certain categories with corresponding benefit amounts. Workers’ compensation has been around for a long time, and it has handled a lot of different types of work injuries and illnesses, but the system hasn’t come up with a way to handle everything, and sometimes new cases require new categories.
Recently, state lawmakers revived a bill that would provide workers’ compensation benefits for state employees who have suffered emotional impairment after witnessing a traumatic death or maiming on the job. The bill was first proposed last year after police and other first responders reported feeling traumatized by what they saw at scene of the horrifying mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Instead of passing the bill last year, legislators set up a private charity fund to cover medical and psychological expenses of just the responders to that one incident. To date, the fund has raised about $400,000, which critics say falls short.
Proponents of the revived bill say it is necessary to treat stress-related disorders. Opponents say it will raise costs.
It’s too early to say whether the bill will pass this year, or how it could affect workers’ compensation in the state if it does. However, the controversy over the bill helps illustrate the ways that Connecticut’s workers’ compensation struggles to deal with work-related illnesses and injuries that are outside of the familiar categories. Workers who have been hurt or sickened on the job need the help of attorneys who understand how the system works so that they can get the benefits they deserve.
Source: The Register Citizen, “Resurrected bill expands Connecticut’s workers’ comp law,” Feb. 18, 2014