After recent tragedies in the state, it’s understandable that legislators would want to review what workers’ comp benefits are available in the case of such events.

The Labor Committee is considering a measure that would enable public and private-sector employees to pursue workers' compensation claims when they suffer a psychological injury unrelated to a physical injury.

Although SB 823 attempts to limit the situations under which an individual can file such claims, often referred to as “mental mental,” it doesn’t yet effectively define who can be a benefit recipient.

A concern is that the proposal might unintentionally open the door too widely to new claims and cause even higher workers’ comp costs in Connecticut. This year, workers’ comp costs are already rising an average 7.1%.

The decision was made long ago that Connecticut would provide these types of benefits in a limited way, for rare and tragic incidents. While policymakers then ensured that those in harm’s way and who needed them would get the benefits right away, they also sought to not inadvertently create other problems.

The new proposal allows workers’ compensation benefits to be awarded to anyone who suffers from post-traumatic stress as a result of witnessing, while in the course of their employment, an intentional violent act that results in the death or maiming of another human being; or the immediate aftermath of such a death or maiming. 

But this leaves the question of employees who witness certain types of events during the ordinary course of their employment, such as emergency room employees who see injured or deceased victims of intentional violence. 

If SB 823 is not effectively drafted to define the proper range of employees covered, it could also mean additional increases in workers’ compensation rates for Connecticut employers. 

CBIA will continue to work with the legislature to ensure assistance those who need coverage and limit the potential for unnecessarily expanding eligibility. 

For more information, contact CBIA’s Bonnie Stewart at 860.244.1925 or bonnie.stewart@cbia.com.