Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a medical condition that affects a person’s psychiatric health triggered by a terrifying event that someone witnessed or experienced. You can develop PTSD when you go through, see or learn about an event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violation. If you are working (or acting in the scope of your job) when the traumatic event occurs, then your PTSD very well may be covered by workers’ compensation.
Common Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Claims
There are certain occupations that are highly susceptible to traumatic events such as police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and medical occupations, but any high stress or dangerous environment can place workers at risk. PTSD is worse than common stress because it is brought on by a horrific event. Sufferers often have trouble working due to the mental severity of the stress and even for those who can work, PTSD can take years of treatment to recover.
Proving Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workers’ compensation benefits can be awarded for PTSD without a physical injury as well as PTSD brought on by a physical work-related accident, but they are proven differently.
In Pennsylvania, a worker’s injuries do not have to be physical in order to qualify for workers’ compensation. Post-traumatic stress disorder is considered a mental injury in Pennsylvania if it does not have a physical injury component associated with it. That means an employee can receive compensation for a PTSD diagnosis without any physical injury as long as the employee can prove that abnormal work conditions caused the psychological trauma. This is a heightened burden and requires very specific evidence. You will require testimony from medical experts as well as fact witnesses that can establish that the event that triggered your condition was abnormal and not normally associated with the type of work you perform. If the event that caused the trauma was a normal part of the job, then you will not be awarded benefits.
If the employee has PTSD associated with a physical injury, then the heightened burden does not apply. The employee only has to prove that he or she suffered the injury on the job and that the injury caused a disability.
If you believe you have PTSD, talk to a doctor and your employer as soon as possible. The laws are strict, so the sooner you speak up, the better the chances of receiving compensation. Workers’ compensation can grant you time off to heal emotional and psychological scars while receiving payment for lost wages, or in severe cases, compensation for permanent mental health issues. It’s not an easy case to win, but a certified workers’ compensation lawyer will make your PTSD claim stronger and increase your odds of success.