New Workers Comp Bill Could Protect Sandy Hook Victims

Witnesses and Victims of the Sandy Hook Shooting Could Receive Expanded Workers Comp

sandy hookPublic employees and teachers who witnessed the horrible Sandy Hook school shooting could, thanks to a new bill passed by the Connecticut Legislature, receive expanded workers comp benefits.

While some benefits were expanded just after the terrible tragedy in 2012, payments did not cover continued mental health treatment needed to help emergency workers and teachers at the school recover from their post-traumatic stress disorder and return to work.

However, on Tuesday, March 18th, the Public Safety Committee approved workers comp expansion specifically for those that suffer PTSD, 18-5. It will now move to the House floor, and if it passes there, will move to the state senate.

“It provides benefits to public employees determined to have PTSD by a certified psychiatrist or psychologist,” Sen. Joan Hartley, co-chairwoman of the committee, said.

“The fact that our Workers’ Comp doesn’t cover mental health is just bizarre to me,” said Rep. Brenda L. Kupchick, R-Fairfield, who voted in favor of the bill in the Public Safety and Security Committee on its deadline day.

“This will send a message to those first responders that we’re not forgetting them,” said Rep. Joe Verrengia, D-West Hartford, vice chairman of the committee.

“We, as government, should protect them,” said Rep. Stephen D. Dargan, D-West Haven, committee co-chairman.

The workers comp legislation was inspired, in part, by a request from Thomas Bean, a 38-year-old former police officer who was one of the first responders to the Sandy Hook school shooting. Bean told legislators that his disability would run out but he would not be able to return to work due to his PTSD.

Under a bill to support emergency responders who helped during the tragedy, Bean receives half his base pay under long-term disability insurance. However, the policy will end in June 2015. If Bean received workers comp instead of disability for his PTSD, he would receive 66% of his base pay, including an average of overtime, with no taxes.

Critics, including Sen. Anthony Guglielmo, insist instead that more funds should be put into the private fund specifically created to help the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre.

“I wrestled with this one quite a bit,” Guglielmo said of his proposal, which sparked an hourlong debate. “I’m concerned that the fix that we put in is going to open a Pandora’s box for these small towns, not even small towns, but all towns under Workers’ Comp. I just think there is a simpler way to do it than undermining the entire Workers’ Compensation system.”

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with South Carolina Workers Comp Claims

The workers comp lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local county, city, and state government. We are licensed to practice throughout South Carolina, as well as Georgia and New York. If you are confused about worker’s comp laws, or have had your worker’s comp claim denied, contact us. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800