In the Fall of 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a reform package into law that, among other things, created a rebuttable presumption that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) developed by a police officer or firefighter is job-related. In other words, a police officer or firefighter in California can claim workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD (Labor Code §3212.15). To defend a claim, an employer or insurer would have the burden of proving that their PTSD is not job-related. Here, our Fresno workers’ compensation defense lawyer provides a more detailed overview of Labor Code §3212.15.

Labor Code §3212.15 Applies to Police Officers and Firefighters

Here is the key thing that municipal employers should know: Labor Code §3212.15 is specifically designed to protect police officers and firefighters. The statute recognizes the unique and stressful situations they encounter in their line of duty. The core premise of the law is that these first responders are disproportionately likely to be exposed to life-threatening conditions and traumatic events. As a consequence, they are at a higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Understanding the “Presumption” in Labor Code §3212.15

The term “presumption” in Labor Code §3212.15 refers to the legal assumption that a police officer or firefighter who has developed PTSD did so because of their employment. Put another way, LC 3212.5 holds that a qualifying worker’s PTSD is (legally speaking) presumed to have arisen from their work-related duties. This stands in contrast to most other types of work injury/work illnesses, including PTSD suffered by workers with other types of jobs. The distinction matters. The presumption shifts the burden of proof from the worker to the employer. It is far easier for police officers and firefighters in California to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD than it is for other workers.

Workers’ Compensation Defense: Rebutting the Labor Code §3212.15 Presumption

To be clear, Labor Code §3212.15 does not provide automatic coverage. Employers and insurers have the right to defend these types of claims. Employers or insurers can rebut the presumption by providing substantial evidence that PTSD was not caused by work-related activities. Effectively doing so generally requires presenting some form of “other evidence” that indicates that the PTSD in question has a non-work-related cause. It could be something like a divorce or other type of traumatic event that happened outside of their employment. These are sensitive, complex cases. Rebutting the presumption requires a proactive, comprehensive approach.

Contact Our Fresno, CA Workers’ Compensation Defense Attorney for Immediate Help

At Yrulegui & Roberts, our Fresno workers’ compensation defense lawyers go above and beyond to provide exceptional legal representation to our clients. If you have any questions about defending a claim involving Labor Code §3212.15 (PTSD for police officers or firefighters), we are here to help. Contact us today to arrange your fully confidential consultation. Our workers’ compensation defense firm represents employers, claim administrators, and insurers in Fresno County and throughout the wider region.