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Can I Be Compensated for Psychiatric Work Injuries?

Can I Be Compensated for Psychiatric Work Injuries?

If you suffer a mental health injury from your work, you may be entitled to receive California workers’ compensation.

Can I Be Compensated for Psychiatric Work Injuries?

Most people experience some level of stress or anxiety about their jobs.  That is fairly typical.  However, if something occurs at your job that leads to a psychiatric diagnosis — and you can demonstrate that it was your work activities that led to that diagnosis, then you may have a viable claim under California workers’ compensation law.

Psychiatric injuries can be difficult to prove, since they do not often involve visible signs such as a broken foot or a large gash that requires stitches.  However, California law does recognize that employees may develop emotional, mental and psychiatric conditions as a result of either their working conditions, a work-related injury or a traumatic event that happens while they are at work.  If you have developed a psychiatric illness due to your work, contact an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney today.

How to Prove a Psychiatric Injury

While California allows workers to make claims for injuries to their mental health under the works’ compensation, you must meet certain requirements in order to receive benefits:

  1. At least 6 months of work history with the employer
  2. The diagnosed condition must be listed in the DSM-IV
  3. The employee must prove that the events of employment are the predominant (51% or more) cause of the condition
  4. A condition caused by good faith, non-discriminatory actions does not qualify as a work-related injury
  5. A condition caused by the litigation process does not qualify
  6. The claim must be filed before the employee is terminated or notified of termination, unless the employer knew about the condition beforehand
  7. Stress is not a psychiatric condition, under the DSM-IV

An example of a psychiatric injury that would likely qualify for workers’ compensation is if a clerk at a convenience store is held at gunpoint during a robbery and is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.  An example of an injury that would probably not qualify is if an employee gets upset because his boss told him that he performed an assignment incorrectly.

Psychiatric injuries can be claimed on their own, or in combination with physical injuries.  For example, if you lose an arm due to an accident at work, you may suffer from depression, panic attacks or other mental health issues as a result. Your claim would be for both the physical and the psychological injury.  A fellow employee who witnessed your accident might claim a purely psychiatric injury, if he has stress, anxiety or other issues after seeing something of that nature happen at work.

Keep in mind that because many psychiatric conditions are poorly understood, it can be more difficult to prove them — or that they were caused by the conditions of work. The workers’ compensation insurance company will likely dig into your personal and medical history to find evidence that your condition was caused by something other than work.  If you are not comfortable with disclosing that information, you may want to avoid filing a claim for a psychiatric injury.

A skilled workers’ compensation attorney can help you if you decided to proceed with a claim for an emotional or mental health claim.  At PLBSH, we are experienced in handling all types of workers’ compensation cases, including those involving psychiatric injuries.  Contact our office today at (800) 435-7542 or info@plbsh.com to learn more about how we can help you.

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