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Virginia: Firefighter Paramedic’s PTSD May Be Compensable Occupational Disease

January 17, 2018 (1 min read)

A Virginia appellate court affirmed, in relevant part, a state Workers’ Compensation Commission’s finding that a firefighter paramedic’s work-related experiences over his 17-year career caused his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), not family or any other non-work-related issues. The paramedic testified that during his career he had “a lot of bad calls,” had witnessed decomposing bodies and shooting victims with "blood everywhere," picked up body parts, and experienced smells that made him nauseous. He added that on one call, an individual pulled a knife on him. Two medical providers opined that it was these traumatic events, and not anything in the paramedic’s personal life, that caused the paramedic’s PTSD. Citing an earlier decision of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the court noted that PTSD can be a compensable disease within the purview of the Act. The also held, however, that there was an unresolved issue that needed to be determined. The paramedic had also participated in two Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. It was not clear whether his work activities during those two periods were similar to the sorts of stresses he faced in his more usual work. The case was remanded for a determination as to whether the Katrina work was the same “work or process” of a firefighter paramedic.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See City of Norfolk v. Munker, 2018 Va. App. LEXIS 5 (Jan. 9, 2018)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 52.03.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law