NWCDN Members regularly post articles and summary judgements in workers’ compensations law in your state.
Select a state from the dropdown menu below to scroll through the state specific archives for updates and opinions on various workers’ compensation laws in your state.
Contact information for NWCDN members is also located on the state specific links in the event you have additional questions or your company is seeking a workers’ compensation lawyer in your state.
In September 2019, the Legislature amended Section 504.019(b) and added Section 504.019(c) in House Bill 2143. For injuries occurringbefore September 1, 2019, the former provisions remain applicable, but for any injury claimedon or after September 1, 2019, the new law will apply.
Until recently, Section 504.019(b) of the Texas Labor Code stated that, “Post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by a first responder is a compensable injury…only if it is based on a diagnosis that: 1) the disorder is caused by an eventoccurring in the course and scope of the first responder’s employment; and, 2) the preponderance of the evidence indicates that the event was asubstantial contributing factor of the disorder.”
In other words, section (b)(1) required a first responder’s claim for PTSD to have derived from asingular incident, not multiple occurrences. That meant that for a first responder’s PTSD to be compensable, it must have developed suddenly, not gradually or cumulatively, such as might be found in a repetitive mental trauma injury. Likewise, section (b)(2)’s requirement that the work event be a “substantial contributing factor” leading to the emergence of PTSD raised the burden of proof placed upon a first responder seeking to establish compensability of the condition.
As of September 1, 2019, however, Section 504.019(b) now states: “Post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by a first responder is a compensable injury…only if it is based on a diagnosis that: 1) the disorder is caused byone or more events occurring in the course and scope of the first responder’s employment; and, 2) the preponderance of the evidence indicates that the event or events werea producing cause of the disorder.
HB 2143 also added a new provision to establish the date of injury for such a claim, echoing the language of Section 408.007 pertaining to occupational diseases. Section 504.019 (c) states:
“For purposes of this subtitle, the date of injury for post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by a first responder is the date on which the first responder firstknew or should have known that the disorder may be related to the first responder’s employment.”
Taken together, the amendments to subsection (b) and the addition of subsection (c) drastically improve a first responder’s ability to claim PTSD as a compensable diagnosis successfully. No longer must such a claim be predicated on a lone traumatic event with a precise date of origin. Now, a claim for PTSD may be based on the cumulative impact that traumatic work events have on a first responder’s mental health, and the date of injury is whenever the injured worker had reason to believe that such a diagnosis might have been caused by his/her work duties.
- Copyright 2019, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP