It’s common knowledge that workers’ compensation covers physical bodily injury. You may not know, however, that it can also apply to emotional and psychological illnesses. Mental injuries stemming from the workplace can take a huge toll on your health—think issues like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
These psychological injuries, however, must be brought on by events in the workplace, and can sometimes be difficult to prove. Speaking with a workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the best results and begin the healing process.
Classes of work-related mental injuries
There are generally three types of work-related mental injuries: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorders. These injuries are either classified as accidental injuries or occupational diseases. In order to establish a compensable mental claim, an injured worker must show:
- The psychological condition must be diagnosed by a qualified medical provider who causally relates the diagnosis to the accidental injury or occupational disease.
- In the case of accidental injuries, the condition must be traced to a specific and identifiable traumatic event.
- For occupational diseases, the condition must be due to the specific nature of employment that exposes the employee to the risk of developing the occupational disease.
One example of an accidental injury might be a convenience store employee who is robbed at gunpoint and later develops verifiable PTSD. Not an example? An employee with a particularly nasty boss who causes the employee moderate daily anxiety.
For workers’ compensation purposes, mental disorders are grouped based on their origin:
- Physical-Mental Claims. These occur when an employee develops a disorder as a result of suffering a physical injury on the job. One example would be if someone developed depression after a debilitating neck or back injury.
- Mental-Physical Claims. This describes when a mental stimulus causes a physical injury. Borrowing from our previous example, a convenience store employee might suffer a cardiac event while being held up at gunpoint.
- Mental-Mental Claims. A mental-mental claim occurs when a mental stressor causes a mental issue to develop. An example of this might be an EMT developing PTSD after witnessing a particularly graphic car accident.
What is and is not mental injury
Although there are many things that can cause emotional injury in the workplace, there are also situations that are not covered by workers’ compensation—and it’s important to know the difference.
You likely would not receive benefits for situations like:
- Work transfers
- Demotions or non-promotions
- Bad job performance reviews
However, it’s important to note that every case is different and compensability is driven by the specific facts. If you are entitled to compensation for work-related injuries, an experienced Maryland workers’ compensation attorney from Plaxen & Adler, P.A. may be able to help you. To find out more, please call 410-730-7737 or fill out our contact form, and schedule your free initial consultation today.