If you suffer from mental illness due to work factors, such as stress, depression, anxiety, or even post-traumatic stress – are you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits?
Most state workers’ compensation laws make it very difficult to collect benefits based on mental issues alone. Usually, a physical injury has to be present to even file a claim. Part of the difficulty is establishing the cause of such illnesses, and then linking them to the job.
A claimant must be able to establish a causal link between a mental illness and the job or workplace. For instance, to make a claim you must be able to prove that the mental ailment was caused by the job, and did not exist before you worked at the job, or in fact, at all.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a good example, wherein you may suffer this type of mental illness even months or years after an accident. And it is considered a mental health problem that developed as the result of a mental or psychological condition at work.
The other type of claim would be considered a physical-mental claim. This is where work-related physical injuries cause psychological conditions. For instance, you injure your back and the chronic pain leads to a sleep disorder. Mental-mental claims, such as PTSD, are much more difficult to prove, if they are even allowed.
State’s workers’ compensation laws vary widely. Some require the presence of an extraordinary event such as “stress in a time of extreme danger”. Other states require that a physical injury also be present. When filing a mental illness claim, you will always have to jump hurdles to prove that it is work-related.
This is one area in which an experienced attorney is absolutely necessary. Your attorney will help you navigate through the very complex system that is required to file a successful workers’ compensation claim, and to receive the benefits that you are owed.
If you have legal questions, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.