Can I Receive Workers' Compensation for Psychiatric Injuries?


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 procedures
  • 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.

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