A psychological injury, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can be just as debilitating as a physical injury caused by an accident at work. New York State Workers’ Compensation does cover certain types of psychological injuries and mental health treatment. A claim for a mental health injury must involve circumstances beyond the typical work-related stress that we can all experience.
Workers’ compensation does not cover claims for mental health injuries that are the direct consequence of a lawful personnel decision involving a disciplinary action, demotion, or termination taken in good faith by the employer. In short, a workers’ compensation claim for a mental or psychological injury must result from abnormal, significantly stressful situations resulting in a formal diagnosis. There is an exception to this general rule for first responders; those employees do not need to show a greater than normal stressful situation occurred.
A claim for a psychological injury or choric condition can arise out of the same circumstances as a physical injury. For example, a teacher could be physically injured breaking up a fight between students, and later experience diagnosed PTSD from the incident. A psychological injury can also happen without any physical harm, such as a situation where a worker witnesses a traumatic injury, or death, of a co-worker.
It is also possible to have a claim for a consequential psychological condition. Many injured workers experience depression and/or anxiety that is related to pain, as well as the overall difficult circumstances of being injured and unable to work. If an injured worker can prove, with medical evidence from a licensed practitioner, that they have depression or anxiety related to a work injury, the mental health condition can be included in the injury claim. This means that the injured worker can be compensated for lost time and obtain necessary medical treatment like counseling and medication.
To claim workers’ compensation benefits for any work-related injury, whether physical or psychological, you must report the injury to your employer and obtain a medical diagnosis. Mental health claims are often more challenging to prove, and it can be difficult to find health care providers who handle work-related mental health claims. The attorneys at Lewis & Lewis can help you find treatment and take the steps necessary to establish your case.