When we think of injuries sustained at work, we tend to think of broken
bones, head injuries, abrasions, sprains, and other physical injuries.
However, a worker can also suffer psychiatric injuries as a result of
his or her work environment or duties. Unlike some states, California
covers these types of injuries. That said, given how difficult it can
be to prove pain that stems from an injury that is not visible, such as
depression or anxiety, insurance companies often deny such claims. This
makes it all the more critical for workers suffering from psychiatric
injuries to seek skilled legal representation to ensure they are able
to receive the workers’ compensation benefits to which they are entitled.
Special Requirements for Psychiatric Injuries
Although psychological injuries are covered by workers’ compensation
insurance, there are special requirements for obtaining these benefits
compared to physical injuries. California treats these types of injuries
differently for a few different reasons, particularly because tests cannot
detect mental illnesses the way blood tests or x-rays can reveal physical
injuries or illnesses. Therefore, when an employee claims to have suffered
a psychiatric injury, it is difficult for a physician to verify it with
any certainty. Additionally, psychological conditions can be caused by
many things, including personal reasons that are in no way connected to
one’s employment, such as marital difficulties or financial trouble.
Therefore, in order to receive benefits for a psychiatric injury, an injured
worker must meet all of the following requirements:
- He or she must have a mental disorder that was diagnosed under accepted
- Due to the mental disorder, he or she must have required medical treatment
or experienced disability that resulted in missed work or the inability
to perform certain tasks
- He or she must have worked for the employer for at least six months, unless
the psychiatric injury resulted from a sudden and extraordinary condition at work
- He or she must prove that events that took place during employment were
the main cause of the psychiatric injury (meaning, work conditions would
need to be at least 51% responsible for it)
To prove the last bullet point, one would need to essentially show that
other personal life struggles did not contribute to the psychiatric injury.
Of course, this means that, if you were to claim to have a psychiatric
injury, you can expect your life to be subject to intense scrutiny.
What Can Cause a Claim to be Denied?
It is possible for your claim to be denied if:
- Your employer is able to prove that a good-faith and non-discriminatory
personnel action, such as was primarily responsible for your psychiatric injury
- You filed the claim after you received notice that you were being laid
off or fired
Work-Related Physical Injuries and Psychiatric Injuries
In some cases, it is possible for an injured worker to have suffered a
psychiatric injury as a result of sustaining a physical one at their place
of work. For example, if you suffered a back injury at work and fell into
a deep depression after months of being bed-ridden and in vast amounts
of pain, it would be easy to link the mental condition to the physical
injury you suffered. Psychiatric injuries that are caused by physical
injuries are often referred to as “compensable consequence”
injuries due to the fact that they are a consequence of the physical injury.
To receive workers’ compensation benefits for these types of injuries,
you will need to meet the following requirements:
- You were the victim of an act of violence at work or were exposed to work-related violence
- Your original physical injury was catastrophic, such as severe burns, spinal
cord injuries, or severe head injuries
- Your injury occurred before 2013
Speak to a Compassionate Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you sustained a psychiatric injury due to your work environment or duties,
you could be eligible for
workers’ compensation benefits, so do not hesitate to hire the skilled and knowledgeable legal
guidance you need during this time. At the Law Offices of Wax & Wax,
our team of workers’ compensation attorneys in Glendale is dedicated
to fighting on behalf of injured workers and will help you obtain the
crucial benefits you deserve.
Begin your workers’ compensation case today and
reach out to our law firm at (818) 946-0608 to request your free initial case evaluation
with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.