Hi I’m Brian Wiklendt, I’m lead counsel with Garfinkel Schwartz I’m coming to you today in our Maitland Florida office just outside of Orlando. We also have an office in Cocoa Beach which is on the Space Coast near Port Canaveral.
You may watch this video on the Garfinkel Schwartz YouTube channel called, “PTSD and Treatments for PTSD.”
Garfinkel Schwartz sees many clients struggling to accept that they have post traumatic stress disorder but are willing to try treatments for PTSD so that they can move forward in life.
What our firm does is we’re basically a fourth generation law firm, that only handles three types of cases and they’re all under the Federal statutes. I’m going to talk to you today about the Non-Appropriated Funds Act and treatments for PTSD.
Three Types of Cases
Non-Appropriated Funds Act, Defense Base Act, Longshore Act
A lot of people don’t know about these laws and they’re kind of complicated. But basically what we do is we help people who are injured overseas working under various government contracts all across the world.
We also help people that injured that are civilians on military bases all across the United States.
And the third group of people that we represent are longshoremen that work in the harbors and seas and rivers and ports of the United States.
This is a niche area of law. Not many people know how to do this area of law. A lot of people don’t even know that the law exists.
These are all under a family of Federal laws that are particularized to people that are injured in those particular instances and locations that I just described.
We are a fourth generation law firm however we’re always evolving because the laws and the injuries that we see are always evolving.
PTSD is a Hot Button Topic
And one of the injuries that I’d like to talk to you about today is PTSD. It’s a hot button issue in the military. It’s also a very tough thing to diagnose and a very difficult thing for people to to get grips on in terms of actually seeking treatment.
And in our area of law, you basically have one year from the time that an injury occurs to file a claim under either of the three statutes for the claims that I just talked about.
However, there are ways to get around that. But before I get into that issue I’d like to talk about what is PTSD legally speaking and what is your right under these laws if you actually become diagnosed with it.
The biggest issue is a lot of people are in denial about their symptoms. They don’t know what they are. They’re embarrassed to go and talk to their family members.
Sometimes they think that they cannot speak about any of the things that they’ve seen because of government contracts and privilege and classified information.
A lot of times they don’t even know that anyone can help them with the symptoms that they have. And everyone knows the classic symptoms of PTSD which are basically sleeplessness, anxiety, flashbacks, loud noises making people jumpy, not wanting to be around crowds, anger issues and the like.
A lot of times our potential clients call us and we ask them about their particular symptoms and they just think that it will go away someday and they’ll be OK on their own.
But basically, legally speaking if PTSD affects your future earning capacity in terms of not being able to hold down jobs that you could hold down before this PTSD occurred.
Getting Diagnosed with PTSD is the First Step
Whether that be any job that’s in a combat zone or in a dangerous type of setting, that’s when you should seek treatment. And if you choose to seek treatment and we get past the apprehension of going to a mental health practitioner what we would do is we can advance the costs of an evaluation for you to go to someone of our choosing to determine what your diagnosis is. Whether that be chronic depression, PTSD, we would get that evaluation from a psychiatrist and we then go forward with that claim.
Don’t Worry About Getting PTSD Help
What the claim basically entails is a lot of times because our clients aren’t actually in the military and they don’t get screened by military personnel that know to look for PTSD. They’re kind of on their own and they leave and they don’t know who to talk to or what’s going to come out of this.
Sometimes years pass the symptoms manifest themselves to such a degree that the person’s earning capacity for the rest of their life is somehow altered. They’re not going to be able to get the kind of jobs that pay them the kind of money that they got beforehand ecause any exposures like that is going to trigger their PTSD symptoms.
There are Many PTSD Treatments Besides Medication
Equine Therapy, Canine Therapy for PTSD
There’s treatment out there which involves all kinds of very creative ways to deal with PTSD that we’re involved in, that would be equine therapy where people tend to horses and there are also instances where people could get what we call canine therapy and they get on a list and non-profit corporations setup therapy dogs to deal with people with PTSD which is really usually a pretty big success. But that kind of therapy is really helpful sometimes.
Then there is also clinical therapy and medications to take to help alleviate the symptoms.
But basically what I’m telling you is, once you get past the point of saying this is affecting my life, you should definitely get it checked out.
Whether or not that turns into a legal battle or not, that’s a question that is private between us and your psychiatrist and you.
All Conversations with Attorney, Psychiatrists Confidential
Everything that’s said with your attorney and or your psychiatrist is completely confidential. A lot of other people I run into sometimes they say that they don’t want to be checked because although they think they have these symptoms they don’t want their guns to be taken away.
That’s more of in a military type of setting where if a military doctor diagnosed you with that they might report that and those types of situations can be talked about with me and to see if there’s any type of risk of that kind of situation which there probably is not.
But the myriad of possibilities in terms of the law in any of these three different federal laws are simply: you file a claim, I setup what your average weekly wage was while you were doing your job the last job that you had or the job that actually affected you the most upon being diagnosed with PTSD.
Find Out What Your Weekly Wage Is
And it’s a very simple equation. The jobs that you can do now, if any, that are disabling you that you can do now, I’m sorry that you couldn’t do now, but that you could do before your exposure to PTSD.
That whatever that weekly wage is minus whatever you can do in the future which is limited, times two-thirds is basically what your lack of earning capacity benefits are indefinitely until you get the treatment that you need and get back on your feet, or maybe possibly throughout the rest of your life.
And that figure is what we would ask for and what we would go after in to try to get to court to try to prove.
PTSD is a Growing, Hotly Contested Issue
PTSD has been hotly contested recently however I think that as we continue making inroads, insurance companies will recognize it more and put more value on it than they do today.
And again, this is Brian Wiklendt at the Maitland office of Garfinkel Schwartz signing off today my colleague Bennett Garfinkel will be talking to you a little bit about Constrictive Bronchiolitis in the future. Thank you for your time.