The New York Senate passed A.B. 5745. As of this writing, the bill is now with the Assembly Labor Committee.
Governor Hochul vetoed a similar measure in 2022, so whether the law will change is anyone’s guess. Nevertheless, the new bill seeks to make mental injury benefits compensable to all workers who suffer from extraordinary stress.
What are mental injury benefits?
Mental injury describes psychological trauma which impacts your ability to work. It may describe depression, anxiety, PTSD, or another mental illness.
If you are eligible for benefits, workers’ compensation insurance must pay for medical bills related to mental injuries, such as psychiatry bills and prescriptions.
If the mental injury puts you out of work, you may be eligible for lost wage benefits, though in most cases, workers’ compensation insurance companies and employers alike tend to be skeptical of the idea that a mental condition could make it difficult or impossible to perform on the job.
What is the current law in New York?
Current workers’ compensation law makes obtaining benefits for mental injury possible if one of three criteria is met.
- You were physically injured on the job; the mental injury is a demonstrable byproduct of your physical injury.
- A traumatic event occurred at your workplace while you were performing your duties, and you suffered psychological distress as a result—especially if the event was unusual or did not constitute a normal part of the work day.
- If the mental trauma came about because of extremely adverse working conditions that were well above industry norms for the job being performed.
Mental injuries are not subject to benefits if they are a normal part of the job. You also can’t claim benefits if the injury directly resulted from a lawful personnel decision or disciplinary action.
An exception in the law offers mental injury benefits to police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, or other people certified to provide emergency medical care, even if the work-related stress is normal for the job.
What would the new bill do?
The new bill seeks to expand the protections given to police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical caregivers to all workers and prohibits the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board from disallowing the claim if the facts reveal that the stressor was that which normally occurs at work.
A.2020-A, vetoed in 2022, offered almost identical language. We’d be surprised to see the Governor sign this bill, but stranger things have happened, and it’s still worth paying attention to. It’s also worth knowing your rights regarding mental injury cases and how the law works here, now, and today.
Get Help Today
As workers’ compensation lawyers in New York, we must stay on top of law changes and help you navigate them. Rest assured; we’ll be watching the fate of AB 5745 very closely.
In the meantime, if you have suffered from an injury at work and think you might have difficulty claiming benefits, contact our office to schedule a consultation. We’ll be happy to help you secure the benefits you need and deserve to deal with your work-related injury.