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Correctional Officers Workers Compensation Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD Correctional Officers and Prison Guards workers comp

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Prison guards, prison employees, and Correctional Officers – Workers Compensation and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

 
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Are Prison guards and Correctional Officers entitled to workers compensation benefits for PTSD?

Recently the state of Maryland Legislature has passed a bill into law finding Correctional officers, prison guards as public safety personnel under Maryland workers compensation law.  This law will in many cases double the amount of compensation prison guards and correctional officers receive when pursing permanent partial disability awards for workers compensation injuries.  The law is a step in the right direction for other heightened workers compensation benefits.  At some point correctional officers and prison guards may enjoy full public safety benefits such as workers’ compensation benefits for some occupational diseases by way of a legal presumption.

Although CO s do not yet have full “public safety” benefits that many police officers and paramedics enjoy they are still entitled to benefits for occupational diseases sustained as a result of work hazards.  Like police and fireman they are able to file claims for hypertension but do not enjoy the legal presumption that is as a result of the work atmosphere and must present additional evidence to prove their claim is compensable. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an example of an occupational disease that is not as prevalent as hypertension claims but does arise on occasion.  Interestingly a recent study at the University of Alabama found that “Prison employees have a PTSD rate equivalent to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and higher than police officers.”  The University study Abstract discussing the prevalence of PTSD among Correctional Officers can be found here.

As a workers compensation attorney I have had the pleasure of representing CO s for work related accidents many of which were the result of an altercation with an inmate.  There have been a small amount of injuries resulting from trips and falls within the facilities, and a number of other accidents not related to assaults, but interestingly enough not one PTSD claim.  I say this not to discredit the study but as a talking point as to why more CO ‘s are not seeking treatment for the condition.  Is there a common reluctance to seek treatment for the condition?  Do correctional officers self treat rather than file a claim for PTSD through workers compensation?  Does the PTSD not rise to a level the correctional officer feels needs professional treatment through the workers compensation system?

The University of Alabama Study discusses factors such as constant threats to CO ‘s from inmates, to CO ‘s family members, and friends.  Correctional Officers witness physical assaults to co-workers, to other inmates, and some personally experience assaults.  Many prison employees witness inmate deaths, or inmates that were sexually assaulted. 

Maryland workers compensation benefits could likely be available to Correction Officers ( CO ‘s ) for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

At this point Maryland law has not provided a legal presumption PTSD is a compensable occupational disease for prison guards and correctional officers under workers compensation; however PTSD is a serious condition that often leads to a compensible workers compensation claim.  At some point proving PTSD is related to the work of a prison guard or CO may be easier should a presumption of law be created but for now it is treated like most other work injuries. 

Correctional Officers and prison guards should not hesitate to seek workers compensation benefits if they believe they have suffered PTSD as a result of their work.  The potential for a successful claim is strong and over time may even get stronger.  This means that workers comp would have to provide to correctional officers, prison guards, and any other correctional employee workers compensation beneifts if they were successful.  Benefits include but are not limited to:

  • Lost wage replacement, also known as temporary total disability.  While the treating physician holds the employee out of work he or she is entitled to be paid by workers comp 2/3 of the their gross weekly wage,
  • Paid for medical treatment- Workers comp would have to pay for the medical treatment needed related to the PTSD,
  • Permanency compensation- If the injured correctional officer has permanent issues as a result of the ptsd an award of permanent partial disability would be provided,
  • Vocational Training- If the PTSD is of such severity that the guard or CO is not able to work in the facility then job placement and training would be provided by workers compensation.

 

See more on Correctional Officers and their status as Public Safety under Maryland Workers Compensation law!

 

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Workers Compensation for Correctional Officers with PTSD
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Workers Compensation for Correctional Officers with PTSD
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Prison guards and correctional officers are entitled to workers compensation benefits for post traumatic stress disorder (ptsd). If treatment is needed CO 's should seek workers compensation benefits for their ptsd
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Work Injury Maryland
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