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Connecticut lawmakers mull over expanding mental work injuries

Folks in New Haven and around the state of Connecticut are keeping a close watch on state lawmakers as the fallout from the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history still settles to earth.

Indeed, the Newtown tragedy has among other things spawned a whole new look at workplace injuries in the state.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers have already put in place a private foundation to aid those injured.

In the immediate wake of the tragedy, legislators created a privately-funded foundation to help those who were injured in response to the mass shooting. What's still in the works, however, is a bill that would allow any employee across the state, whether private or public, access to workers' compensation benefits if they suffer emotional damage after a traumatic event.

Critics of the proposed expanded plan say it would cause havoc with local budgets and that people impacted by the infamous murders this past December at Sandy Hook Elementary School have already been treated appropriately. Already, they argue, the privately-funded foundation pushed forward by the lawmakers adequately assists school staff and first responders suffering from psychological trauma as a result of the school massacre.

Other opponents maintain that mental health already is covered for some employees through programs like the Employee Assistance Program.

But some lawmakers insist the bill should address the larger issue about whether workers' compensation should cover mental health claims unrelated to physical injury. One suggestion is to let a disassociated third-party be appointed to review the claims and decide which have merit.

To be sure, workplace injury attorneys will also have their attention focused on this legislative battle that could forever expand the coverage of standard workers' compensation.

Source:  New Haven Register, "Connecticut lawmakers debate workers' compensation limits" Christine Stuart, May. 08, 2013

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