The short answer is yes. The long answer requires us to elaborate the specific situations when it is possible to file a claim for a non-physical damages, and finally why work comp attorneys are extra careful when taking on cases with a psychological component.
General conditions for workers’ compensation
Normally, the compensation is awarded to workers who are injured at work, and have missed days of work due to the injury, and/or had to pay medical bills as a result of the said injury. Similarly to that, compensation is also awarded for illnesses that occur at workplace if they are caused by the workplace condition. Some toxic chemicals may induce an illness in a worker, which causes them to miss work and pay a certain amount of money for treatment. Such a worker is entitled to worker’s compensation for both lost wages and medical bills. The same rule should apply to mental health claims. However, this is where the tricky part starts.
Proving that the condition was caused by workplace conditions
Getting diagnosed for a mental issue is the relatively straightforward part. What can be problematic is the part where you need to prove that your condition was brought on by the workplace conditions, and not something else, like your personal life.
What can you hope for?
Since it is hard to prove conclusively that your condition is work-related, it may be hard to find work comp attorneys who will take your case. In most cases, work comp attorneys are paid only if you win. With small chance of winning, many will pass on the case. Since you are not expected to return to work with a mental medical condition, it is hard to win full permanent disability benefits. It is more likely that you will be compensated for lost wages and medical expenses. However, every case is different, so consulting willing work comp attorneys may give you some clarity.
Most common mental health claims
Due to the specific conditions for work comp (proving that the condition was caused by workplace conditions), there are several mental issues which are by far the most common among claimants. The most common claim is stress. However, clearly and definitively proving that your stress is caused by the workplace and not by your personal life can be challenging. Furthermore, since stress is not recognized as a mental issue in its own right, it must be connected with an actual mental illness. This condition will be entered into your medical record, and both the insurance company and any future employers will have access to it.
Anxiety is also a common issue people list for workers’ compensation. Seeing how anxiety is developed over time, it is necessary for a claimant to be able to prove (usually through physician’s testimony) that the condition was developed and fueled by the workplace conditions. Finally PTSD comes as a result of a traumatic event, and can be developed quickly. In order to be able to file a claim for PTSD, a claimant needs to be able to point to a specific workplace-related event which triggered the condition, as well as provide a physician’s opinion about the progression of the condition.
Apart from general conditions for work comp, some states have their own, more specific regulations. California has a number of specific conditions, one of which is that a claimant needs to be employed by the current employer for at least six months before they can file this kind of a claim.
Every case is specific and we do not provide advice through our online texts. That is why you are encouraged to contact us at The Law Offices Of Thomas M. Debenedetto for a free consult, so we can establish whether there are grounds for a claim. Years of experience, devotion, and hundreds of millions of dollars of claims are our best recommendations.
The information you obtain in this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.