A senior fire official who was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after the death of a fellow firefighter who perished in the line of duty will receive workers’ comp benefits for the rest of his life, the Illinois Appellate Court has ruled.
Scott Moran, who worked for the Village of Homewood in Cook County, was diagnosed with PTSD in 2010.
In his claim, Moran said he was instructed to take charge of a fire on March 30, 2010. Although he never entered the burning house, Moran testified that he witnessed firefighters exiting the house dragging a fellow firefighter who had been injured.
Moran testified previously that he constantly thought about the fire and eventually sought treatment from a psychiatrist to help him cope with difficulty sleeping, along with other challenges.
While empathetic to Moran’s plight, Eugene Keefe of Keefe, Campbell, Biery and Associates said he is troubled by the Court’s ruling and the precedent it may set.
“Couldn’t every firefighter at that fire make the same claim and say, ‘I was on the fire and Dave or Sandy passed away and now...I can’t work. I’m done. I need to get paid by the village for the rest of my life,’” Keefe said.
Although he was not involved in the case, Keefe added that an arbitrator had previously ruled that the loss of life while fighting a fire is not an accident but a real risk firefighters take. “A firefighter dying in a fire is a sad thing,” he said. “I don’t want to minimize the passing of a firefighter.”
The court’s ruling reversed previous rulings by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Circuit Court of Cook County.