PTSD covered by workers' comp E-mail
Written by Jose Torres   

As far as police health and safety and insurance claims go this story is as big as they come- according to a recent article from the Island Packet, police officers in South Carolina who suffer post traumatic stress disorder after shooting someone will be eligible for workers compensation benefits under a bill that recently passed the South Carolina State House. The bill was inspired by Brandon Bentley, a Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Bentley shot and killed an individual on a call in 2009. He never worked as a cop again and has tried attempting suicide at least twice.

The state Supreme Court initially ruled Bentley was not eligible for workers compensation because the law said the benefits are only available if the events that lead to the injury were “extraordinary and unusual.”

The court argued and ruled that for a police officer shooting someone is part of the job and does not meet the threshold required for “extraordinary” and or “unusual.”

Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, proposed a bill last year that sought to exempt law enforcement officers from the “extraordinary and unusual” standard.

The exemption would only apply in cases where the officer was involved in “the use of deadly force in the line of duty.”

“Quit giving them awards and quit waving at them in the balcony," Pope told fellow lawmakers on the state house floor.

“Do some small thing to help them,” Pope said, encouraging lawmakers to pass his proposed legislation.

And that’s just what they did. Pope’s bill passed overwhelmingly by 80 to 32.

Critics, including Rep. Garry Smith, R-Greenville, said he’s worried about a slippery slope.

He points out that workers compensation laws cover mental illnesses as long as “they are associated with some type of physical injury.”

When you expand the law to include mental injuries as well as physical ones the claims are sure to balloon way beyond the ranks of law enforcement.

“You have a lot of people that for whatever reason they will have stressful jobs, and this could really get out of hand,” he said.

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