Workers’ Comp Proposal Would Expand Eligibility, Costs
Under a legislative proposal this year, eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits would expand and likely lead to higher costs for employers.
Connecticut’s workers’ compensation system awards benefits to employees who suffer physical injuries on the job. However, a proposal now in discussion would enable employees who suffer a psychological injury unrelated to a physical injury to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Under current law, police officers and firefighters in Connecticut may be awarded benefits for psychological injuries due to events they experience in the line of duty–instances where deadly fire is used, or when they witness the death of colleagues, for example.
The legislation being discussed would allow both public and private employees to pursue workers' compensation claims where there is only a psychological injury. These are commonly referred to as “mental-mental” claims.
Specifically, legislators are seeking to allow individuals to collect workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer from psychological trauma due to witnessing a death or maiming in the course of their employment.
The question is whether this will open the door too broadly to claims. For example, in workplaces such as hospitals, workers routinely witness people dying.
The proposal also does not define who would be considered a witness. Under the current proposal, someone who simply hears the occurrence from a distance but does not view the event may be able to collect benefits.
State lawmakers precluded mental-mental claims when Connecticut’s workers’ compensation statutes were reformed in the early 1990s because of widespread abuse of the system here and in other states. The abuses led to increased claims and higher employer costs.
The cost of workers’ compensation insurance continues to rise for employers in Connecticut. In 2013 alone, workers' compensation rates have risen on average by 7.1%. Increases in the cost of medical benefits as well as the length of time injured employees are staying out of work have been cited as major reasons for the rise.
Thissession CBIA will work with legislators to help communicate the potential impacts of this type of legislation on the employer community and the state’s economy.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Bonnie Stewart at 860.240.1925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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