In the workers’ compensation system, any type of work-related condition entitles an employee to receive benefits. This includes emotional or mental stress injuries brought on by a physical injury suffered on the job as well as job-related stress. In other words, if you suffer a physical injury and the injury causes you to fall into a state of depression, treatment for the depression is compensable. If you a suffer from a mental condition brought on by stress at work or some other stressor related to your employment, this could be compensable, however, it is much more difficult to demonstrate as there is a heightened burden of proof.
Two Actual Examples
- A long time employee suffers a career-ending injury. The injured worker is 50 years old. The injured worker begins to feel depressed at his/her inability to return to his/her job. The depression is associated with anxiety. The family physician recommends psychotherapy. This should be compensable.
- An employer lays off a significant number of the workforce due to the economy. As a result, a remaining employee’s workload significantly increases. At the same time, the employee’s boss is under tremendous pressure to increase productivity and takes it out on the employee. The employee suffers from anxiety and is unable to continue to work. This is probably not compensable unless the employee can demonstrate that this condition is related to “abnormal working conditions” that are otherwise not associated with the job. This is a high burden of proof and difficult.
Proving That Stress is Related to Work
If stress is particularly bad making it difficult to work, a professional diagnosis of that mental issue is necessary. With physical injuries it is often obvious that an injury is impairing an employee’s ability to perform their work. With mental health issues, showing the nexus can be more challenging. In order to be compensable, the injured worker must present medical evidence supporting the causal relation between the work incident and the mental health condition.
If you are experiencing such a high level of stress related to work that you cannot function, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Because these claims are often difficult to prove it is critical that you obtain a certified workers compensation attorney. I am committed to helping employees understand their rights and get the benefits that they are entitled to under the law. To learn more you can schedule a free claim review by contacting the office by phone or reach out online.