Work Compensation for Anxiety: Pros and Cons of Filing a Claim

While workers’ comp claims concerning a physical injury make a fairly easy case for a skilled attorney, filing a claim because of psychological injuries are felt to cause more harm than good. However manageable they are for attorneys, psychological or psychiatric claims can even add up to an employee’s anxiety instead of bringing relief. That is why it is vital that anyone wishing to seek work compensation for anxiety and stress-related injuries should inform themselves thoroughly about what such an action entails.

Framework and Terminology

Firstly, we must differentiate between two types of stress-related injuries and subsequent claims.

Psychiatric injury is an injury whose nature is entirely psychological and is sometimes called a stress claim. Such injuries may take place if an employee was subjected to verbal abuse or threats of physical or sexual abuse at work, if the working environment is hostile, or in any other cases where the employee was the ”victim” and developed stress and anxiety-related disorders.

Compensable consequence injury happens as a consequence of a work-related physical injury. Depending on the nature of a physical injury, the consequential psychological injuries can include sleep-deprivation leading to anxiety and inability to concentrate to a task at hand or work in general, PTSD, stress caused by sexual impotence, to name but a few.

Seeking compensation for anxiety and other stress-related injuries in California has to be supported by a physician’s report, presenting a detailed review of an employee’s work and personal history. Moreover, California Labor Code Section 3208.3 prescribes a number of requirements for claiming compensation for psychological injuries. Broadly speaking, even if such an injury is established to have taken place, its compensability depends on the amount of evidence the employee can present to prove that the injury was caused by work-related and not personal factors.


Compensation for approved appeals can often be substantial, including medical bills, medications, wages lost due to the employee’s inability to work, among others. In case of a compensable consequence injury, obtaining compensation is relatively easy and the amount of compensation is normally determined according to the severity of the physical injury.

As far as stress claims are concerned, building a case is a great deal more difficult, which is why contacting an experienced attorney is always the best option. The process is complex, but it is far from impossible to reach a satisfying outcome is you ensure strong and aggressive legal representation. Even if the initial claim is denied, a resourceful attorney will immediately file a workers’ compensation appeal.


Due to stringent requirements of the Labor Code regarding workers’ compensation, especially psychiatric and other stress-related claims, an employee filing a claim has to be prepared for the level of detail the insurance company will go into. The insurance company will be granted access to the employee’s present and past medical records, personal and professional history, financial circumstances etc. The petitioner must also be ready to face office gossip, possible layoff and social stigmatization.

Furthermore, stress is not considered a psychiatric condition, so in order to file a psychiatric claim, the condition claimed has to be registered in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) and supported by a physician. The psychiatric condition therefore becomes part of the petitioner’s medical record, which has to be presented to all future employers, creditors and other parties the petitioner will interact with.

Moreover, since compensation can be sought only for conditions that are proved to be caused by work-related factors, a petitioner is faced with merciless scrutiny of their private life and personal relationships with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Although an aggressive attorney will take all these factors into account, the petitioners have to endure an unsettling period of gossip, scepticism and social pressure.

Need Advice on Work Compensation Claims for Anxiety or Other Stress-Related Injuries?

Don’t risk jeopardizing your case because of the lack of information and unskilled legal representation. The Law Offices of Thomas M. DeBenedetto have provided services with personal attention to each client in San Diego County since 1992. We are here for you and your family.

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.