In the ever-changing landscape of California Workers’ Compensation, lawmakers have proposed numerous bills during the current legislative session which would make many additional presumptions and provide workers with additional benefits. There are currently approximately five legislative proposals that would make law enforcement employees, lifeguards, nurses, first responders, and prison employees eligible for presumptions stating that a claim for post-traumatic stress disorder is compensable. Lawmakers are currently concerned that first responders are more susceptible to PTSD based on the nature of their employment.
Below are a list of current proposals that seek to expand the scope of presumptions:
- AB 1107 – This bill would add additional employees from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and California State University Police Departments to the PTSD presumption. This bill would have the most impact on employees responsible for law enforcement activities, including transporting inmates.
- AB 1156 – This bill would create a presumption for workers at acute care hospitals providing direct patient care. This bill would presume that infectious diseases, orthopedic injuries, PTSD, cancer, and various respiratory diseases are work-related.
- AB 1145 – This bill would create a new PTSD presumption for qualified state medical providers working for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the State Department of Developmental Services, and the State Department of State Hospitals. Please note this includes psychiatric technicians, registered nurses, and other medical and social service providers.
- AB 699 – This bill expands existing presumptions for full-time members of the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s Boating Safety Unit and extend the existing timeframe for them to file. It would also expand the list of existing presumptions to include PTSD or exposure to biochemical substances.
- AB 597 – This bill attempted to add public safety dispatchers (amended this bill on Feb. 23 to remove public safety dispatchers from the proposal). Paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and more firefighters would be added to the existing PTSD presumption.
Currently, these bills are still in preliminary discussion and not necessarily close to becoming law. The bills would have to be approved by both the State Senate and the State Assembly. The Governor would have to sign them into law. However, if passed, these proposals are disconcerting as they propose a significant expansion in scope of presumptions and creates a “slippery slope” with no end in sight. The outcome is unknown, and we will continue to monitor these bills and their eventual outcome.