5-STAR RATED: MINNESOTA WORKERS COMPENSATION LAWYERS – FIRST RESPONDER PTSD PRESUMPTION
What is the first responder PTSD presumption?
In 2018, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law, Minn. Stat. § 176.011, Subd. 15(e), creating a presumption that “first responders” diagnosed with PTSD are entitled to have that PTSD presumed to be a work injury. Specifically, for dates of injury on or after January 1, 2019, “first responders” diagnosed with PTSD are presumed to have a compensable work injury – a compensable workers’ compensation claim. The statute does not specifically identify that the presumption applies to any and all employees that identify as “first responders” – rather, the PTSD presumption under Minn. Stat. § 176.011, Subd. 15(e), applies to the following job or job-types:
- a licensed police officer;
- a firefighter;
- a paramedic;
- an emergency medical technician;
- a licensed nurse employed to provide emergency medical services outside of a medical facility;
- a public safety dispatcher;
- an officer employed by the state or a political subdivision at a corrections, detention, or secure treatment facility;
- a sheriff or full-time deputy sheriff of any county; or
- a member of the Minnesota State Patrol.
These are the categories of jobs for which the first responder PTSD presumption is applicable. If someone identifies as a “first responder,” but does not fit one of the categories above, the presumption does not likely apply to them. In this article and below, “first responder” is meant to encompass those categories of jobs listed above, to which the statute actually applies.
If you work in the categories of jobs above and basic facts are present that meet the presumption criteria for statutory presumption occupational disease cases (PTSD is the occupational disease in first responder PTSD cases), the work injury is presumed to be compensable. See Linnell v. City of St. Louis Park, 305 N.W.2d 599, 601 (Minn. 1981) and Worden v. County of Houston, 356 N.W.2d 693, 695 (Minn. 1984).
The basic facts which trigger the presumption criteria under Minn. Stat. § 176.011, Subd. 15(e) include the following:
- that the employee is employed on active duty as a “first responder” (those categories of jobs listed above) prior to the disablement resulting from PTSD;
- that the employee is diagnosed with PTSD by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist; and
- that the employee has not been diagnosed with PTSD by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist previously.
These basic facts establish the first responder PTSD presumption. If you are a first responder, and those above facts apply to you, your PTSD is presumed to be a work injury, covered by workers’ compensation.
Once the first responder PTSD presumption is established, that presumption can only be rebutted by “substantial factors brought by the employer or insurer.” Minn. Stat. § 176.011, Subd. 15(e). This means that the burden of proof only shifts back to the Employee after the Employer/Insurer has presented “a strong showing” to rebut the presumption. See Jerabek v. Teleprompter Corp., 255 N.W.2d 377, 29 W.C.D. 621 (1977) and Anderson v. City of Minneapolis, 258 Minn. 221, 103 N.W. (2d) 397, 21 W.C.D. 258 (1960).
In Minnesota Workers’ Compensation, statutory presumption cases are afforded special preference – meaning, the initial burden of proof in those select cases are (or, at least, should be, according to law) lower. The Minnesota Supreme Court stated that the presumption in statutory presumption occupational disease cases “is something more than a procedural device initially relieving the employee of proving causal relationship between…[the employee’s] occupation and the disease which results in [the employee’s] disability in that, to rebut the presumption, an employer is required to make a strong showing either that the particular claimant’s… disease and disability were the result of recognized causative factors which are not related to his occupation.” Linnell v. City of St. Louis Park, 305 N.W.2d 599, 601 (Minn. 1981).
The PTSD presumption statute – Minn. Stat. § 176.011, Subd. 15(e) – was unanimously enacted in the Minnesota legislature by both the House and the Senate. First responders are essential to our functioning communities and place themselves, by the very nature of their jobs, into a career with a high risk of exposure to trauma. The legislature has recognized that risk and created the presumption – a presumption that should help first responders get earlier treatment, work on recovery to return to their essential jobs, and help recruit to the profession. It is critical that these first responders be informed of this presumption that PTSD can be presumed to be a work injury. If you are a first responder diagnosed with PTSD, or a first responder who believes you may have PTSD, it is vital you speak with attorneys familiar with the presumption and how to pursue benefits on your behalf. Our attorneys at Schmidt & Salita Law Firm, our workers’ compensation experts, can advise you on whether the first responder PTSD presumption applies, whether you could or would need to do something in order to qualify for the presumption, and whether or not we truthfully believe you may need the assistance of an attorney.
Contingent Fee Arrangements Available.
The Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Schmidt Salita Law Team understand that the victims of personal injury are often dealing with financial issues due to medical bills, car damage, and lost wages and earnings. Most do not have the financial resources to pay for a lawyer on an hourly basis – especially for a really good lawyer. The answer to this dilemma is the contingent fee contract where the lawyer doesn’t get paid by the hour. Instead, the lawyer gets paid on a “commission basis” like a real estate agent, as a percentage of the settlement produced. The Schmidt Salita Law Team offers contingent fee contracts in most cases.
“PERSONAL INJURY LEGAL SERVICES WITH A PERSONAL TOUCH!”
A Schmidt Salita Work Comp Lawyer will come to your home, or the hospital, for your initial visit. The Schmidt Salita Law Team strives to provide personal injury legal services with a personal touch to help the victims of personal injury through a very difficult time in their lives.