This is a good story about a paramedic in Nebraska who struggled to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for a mental injury he sustained while on the job.
This firm is proud of the fact that we have compensable mental injury claims for first responders in Nebraska. Our firm helped draft legislation which amended Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-101.01 to provide workers’ compensation benefits for mental claims without the need for an accompanying physical injury. In the article linked above, prior to 2010, the injured paramedic would not have been entitled to any workers’ compensation benefits for a strictly mental claim (without physical injury), including no treatment or counseling.
This is good to keep in mind during the current flooding throughout Nebraska: where there is potential for volunteer firefighters and first responders to get injured. Injured volunteer firefighters are also covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act: including mental claims for those volunteer firefighters.
Fortunately, we do have coverage for mental claims in Nebraska, but unfortunately not every employee is covered for only mental (called mental-mental) claims without a physical injury. Other lawyers at this firm have speculated that this is strictly a political decision.
Although mental-mental claims are covered in Nebraska, what kind of benefits are employees entitled to, who suffer from mental injuries? The benefits for mental injuries are the same for any physical injuries. The injured employee is potentially entitled to: 1. Medical Treatment; 2. Temporary Disability benefits while off of work; 3. Permanent Disability benefits; and 4. Vocational Rehabilitation. n the article, the injured paramedic was seeking payment of treatment for his mental injuries: including treatment that was specialized for mental injuries suffered by paramedics. The paramedic was also fighting for temporary disability payments while he was off work because of the injury.
One of the main issues for the mental claim discussed in the article, hinged on what kind of treatment was reasonable and necessary as a result of the work injury. Specifically, the City of Lincoln argued that a service dog for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was not reasonable and necessary care. While the paramedic, and his therapist, insisted that the service dog was necessary care as a result of the accident. The questions for reasonable and necessary treatment is whether the treatment is required by the nature of the injury to relieve pain or promote and hasten the employee’s restoration to health and employment.
The article concludes with a somewhat happy ending, despite the circumstances. However, without workers’ compensation benefits for mental injuries, this story could have turned out much worse. Who knows what would have happened to the injured paramedic without the mental treatment he so obviously needed? Fortunately, we’ll never know. Now, Nebraska just needs to extend those mental injury benefits to all employees in all types of employment.
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