Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

File No. 60

    January Session, 2017

Substitute Senate Bill No. 27

Senate, March 14, 2017

The Committee on Labor and Public Employees reported through SEN. GOMES of the 23rd Dist. and SEN. MINER of the 30th Dist., Chairpersons of the Committee on the part of the Senate, that the substitute bill ought to pass.

AN ACT INCLUDING CERTAIN MENTAL OR EMOTIONAL IMPAIRMENTS WITHIN THE DEFINITION OF "PERSONAL INJURY" UNDER THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION STATUTES.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subdivision (16) of section 31-275 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(16) (A) "Personal injury" or "injury" includes, in addition to accidental injury that may be definitely located as to the time when and the place where the accident occurred, an injury to an employee that is causally connected with the employee's employment and is the direct result of repetitive trauma or repetitive acts incident to such employment, and occupational disease.

(B) "Personal injury" or "injury" shall not be construed to include:

(i) An injury to an employee that results from the employee's voluntary participation in any activity the major purpose of which is social or recreational, including, but not limited to, athletic events, parties and picnics, whether or not the employer pays some or all of the cost of such activity;

(ii) A mental or emotional impairment, unless such impairment (I) arises from a physical injury or occupational disease, (II) in the case of a police officer, arises from such police officer's use of deadly force or subjection to deadly force in the line of duty, regardless of whether such police officer is physically injured, provided such police officer is the subject of an attempt by another person to cause such police officer serious physical injury or death through the use of deadly force, and such police officer reasonably believes such police officer to be the subject of such an attempt, [or] (III) in the case of a firefighter, is diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder by a licensed and board certified mental health professional, determined by such professional to be originating from the firefighter witnessing the death of another firefighter while engaged in the line of duty and not subject to any other exclusion in this section, or (IV) in the case of any police officer or firefighter, is diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder by a licensed and board certified mental health professional, and determined by such professional to be originating from the police officer or firefighter visually witnessing the death or maiming of one or more human beings and which is not the result of some natural cause, provided such death or maiming is not the result of a motor vehicle collision and the visual witnessing of such death or maiming, or the visual witnessing of the aftermath of such death or maiming, occurred while the police officer or firefighter was engaged in the line of duty. As used in this clause, "police officer" means a member of the Division of State Police within the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, an organized local police department or a municipal constabulary, "firefighter" means a uniformed member of a municipal paid or volunteer fire department, [and] "in the line of duty" means any action that a police officer or firefighter is obligated or authorized by law, rule, regulation or written condition of employment service to perform, or for which the police officer or firefighter is compensated by the public entity such officer serves, "maiming" means the loss of any member or organ, and "immediate aftermath" means the scene at which such death or maiming occurred for a period of time not to exceed six hours after such scene is secured by law enforcement officers;

(iii) A mental or emotional impairment that results from a personnel action, including, but not limited to, a transfer, promotion, demotion or termination; or

(iv) Notwithstanding the provisions of subparagraph (B)(i) of this subdivision, "personal injury" or "injury" includes injuries to employees of local or regional boards of education resulting from participation in a school-sponsored activity but does not include any injury incurred while going to or from such activity. As used in this clause, "school-sponsored activity" means any activity sponsored, recognized or authorized by a board of education and includes activities conducted on or off school property and "participation" means acting as a chaperone, advisor, supervisor or instructor at the request of an administrator with supervisory authority over the employee.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective from passage) Not later than October 1, 2017, the state shall purchase a workers' compensation insurance policy to provide coverage for any claims for workers' compensation benefits made pursuant to subparagraph (B)(ii)(IV) of subdivision (16) of section 31-275 of the general statutes, as amended by this act.

Sec. 3. Section 31-294h of the general statutes is repealed. (Effective from passage)

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

from passage

31-275(16)

Sec. 2

from passage

New section

Sec. 3

from passage

Repealer section

LAB

Joint Favorable Subst.

 

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.


OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact:

Agency Affected

Fund-Effect

FY 18 $

FY 19 $

Various State Agencies

GF, TF - Cost

See Below

See Below

Note: GF = General Fund; TF = Special Transportation Fund

Municipal Impact:

Municipalities

Effect

FY 18 $

FY 19 $

All Municipalities

STATE MANDATE - Cost

See Below

See Below

Explanation

Sections 1 and 2 of the bill will result in a cost to the state's workers' compensation program to purchase a workers' compensation policy to provide coverage for any claims arising out of the bill's expanded definition of personal injury to include mental-mental injuries (a mental injury without an accompanying physical injury) as of October 1, 2017.1 The amount of the policy will depend on various factors, including (1) the anticipated frequency of claims and (2) the anticipated severity of the claims, which are both unknown and highly variable. The average cost per case of a mental–mental injury resulting in absence from work can range from $20,000 to $150,000.2 By way of example, a basic claim for the state with lost wage (TTD), permanent partial disability (PPD) and cost of medical services is estimated to be approximately $88,000 over the life of the claim.3 The bill requires a diagnosis of Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition, the bill defines “immediate aftermath” to be a period not to exceed six hours. These limiting factors may mitigate the cost to the state and municipalities.

Lastly, it is important to note that once an injury is identified as a work related injury and covered under the workers' compensation program any subsequent injury or impairment which can be causally linked to the initial injury is also covered by workers' compensation, resulting in a wide range of potential per claim costs.

The bill's coverage applies to police officers and firefighters (including volunteer firefighters). There are approximately 26,650 firefighters, 7,279 police officers, and 1,072 sworn state police officers (total population is approximately 35,001 people). 4

Municipal Impact

The bill will result in a cost to municipalities to provide coverage for workers' compensation claims made in accordance with the provisions of the bill for the period between when the bill is enacted and October 1, 2017 when the state policy would be effective.

It is not known how many mental-mental claims are filed in a given year by municipal police officers or firefighters under the current law. The cost will depend on the amount of the policy if one can be purchased or the cost of the resulting claims.

Section 3 of the bill may result in a cost to the state's and municipal workers' compensation programs to provide wage replacement workers' compensation benefits for police officers who suffer a mental or emotional impairment caused by using, or being subject to, deadly force. Wage replacement benefits are not currently provided. It is unknown how many claims of this nature are filed annually. As previously stated, average wage replacement for the first year of a TTD claim is approximately $13,000. There is no additional cost for section 3 for firefighters as it is conforming statute to sections 1 and 2 of the bill.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future and reflected in future premium and claims costs.

OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 27

AN ACT INCLUDING CERTAIN MENTAL OR EMOTIONAL IMPAIRMENTS WITHIN THE DEFINITION OF "PERSONAL INJURY" UNDER THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION STATUTES.

SUMMARY

This bill makes police officers and firefighters eligible for full workers' compensation benefits (i.e., wage replacement and medical benefits) if:

Under the bill, “maiming” is the loss of any member or organ and “immediate aftermath” is the scene of the death or maiming within six hours after law enforcement officers secure it.

The bill requires the state, by October 1, 2017, to purchase a workers' compensation insurance policy to cover any claims for benefits under the above conditions.

The bill also extends full workers' compensation benefits to (1) police officers who suffer a mental or emotional impairment caused by using, or being subjected to, deadly force in the line of duty and (2) firefighters diagnosed with PTSD caused by witnessing the death of another firefighter in the line of duty. Current law limits benefits in these instances to treatment by an approved psychologist or psychiatrist and does not include wage replacement benefits.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

COMMITTEE ACTION

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

13

Nay

0

(03/02/2017)

TOP

1 The balance of the state's workers' compensation program is assumed to remain self-insured and therefore responsible for the total cost of claims incurred.

2 Source: NCCI (National Council on Compensation Insurance). These figures are based on data reported from fully insured entities.

3 The estimate is based on (1) first year temporary total disability (TTD) cost of $21,000 ($13,000 in lost wages and $8,000 medical ($100-$300 per visit for approximately 2 visits per week)), (2) additional permanent partial disability (PPD) benefit of $52,000, and (3) $15,000 in future medical costs. Medical costs refer only to mental health related out-patient services and exclude any other medical care related to the claim. This assumes the individual is classified as having a PPD. A TTD has no cap on treatment or duration.

4 Member statistics based on information from the Connecticut State Firefighters Association for 2017.