Efforts are under way in several states to pass legislation that would lower companies’ workers’ comp costs. Police officers, firefighters and other first responders are opposing one bill under consideration in Maine.
The bill, introduced by State Rep. Kerri Prescott (R), would restrict eligibility for permanent coverage for mental illness under workers’ comp.
First responders testifying at a legislative committee hearing said many in their professions suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
A police officer, William Fournier, testified about being one of the first responders to find a four-year-old girl burned to death in an oven by her mother’s boyfriend. The incident took place in 1984, and it still haunts him today.
Fournier says one day, his wife heard him screaming in their house. “I had my service revolver loaded at my head, and the hammer was locked,” he said. “I have no recollection of this whatsoever.”
Fournier was denied workers’ compensation.
“I did my job, I did it right. I implore you people, as this committee, to seriously think about this,” he said. “I think your first responders deserve better.”
Rep. Prescott says the legislation is needed to reduce litigation and avoid unreliable workers’ comp claims.
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce supports the bill.
Maine’s Workers’ Compensation Board unanimously opposes the measure because it would carve out a group of injuries and say those people can’t get benefits to which others may be eligible.
The committee will vote on the bill in the coming weeks.
Should workers be able to receive permanent workers’ comp benefits for post traumatic stress disorder suffered because of an incident at work? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.