Monika Hartl
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CT State Lawmaker Fights To Expand Workers’ Comp Laws In Wake Of School Shooting

A Connecticut state lawmaker is raising some interesting concerns about what is and isn’t covered in workers’ compensation benefits packages for first responders in the wake of a horrific elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT that took the lives of 20 first graders and six staffers.

Rep. Stephen D. Dargan, D- Conn., the co-chair of the state legislature’s public safety committee, has proposed legislation that may expand circumstances in which first responders may be eligible for workers’ compensation.

Up to this point, Connecticut law has provided workers’ compensation benefits to pay for counseling of police officers who suffer mental or emotional impairment by “use of deadly force or subjection to deadly force in the line of duty.” Lawmakers also added a provision to provide counseling for firefighters who provide the death of a colleague in the line of duty just this year.

Because of the scope of the current law however, it doesn’t provide counseling in situations like this where many first responders would not be offered services. At least half a dozen Newtown police officers responded to the scene, but because the alleged shooter shot himself before officers reached him, they didn’t use deadly force. Instead they heard the shooter shooting and came upon the scene where 20 first graders along with six adult women were shot to death.

Any employee receiving workers’ compensation continues medical benefits as well as a percentage of their pay and it is separate from other types of benefits. Dargon has also argued that the law may need to be extended to included teachers and school personnel, especially because the crime included so many young children.

Counselors have been available to this point for first responders, but workers’ compensation benefits would allow for first responders to take some time off to seek more complete treatment.

Wisconsin is one of a handful of states that recognize mental injury in all forms, which include many mental and nervous conditions, but since there are no definitive standards to prove mental injuries, so it really varies on a case by case basis.

If you feel you have suffered any type of extraordinary mental injuries in the course of your regular work duties, it is important to discuss your situation with a Wisconsin workers’ compensation attorney. Call today for your free, immediate consultation.

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