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Does California’s Workers’ Comp Cover Stress Claims?

Does California’s Workers’ Comp Cover Stress Claims?

Does California’s Workers’ Comp Cover Stress Claims?

When you think of workers’ compensation, you probably think about the physical injuries caused by accidents in the workplace. Slip and fall accidents represent one of the most common types of workplace incidents that lead to the filing of a workers’ compensation claim. Although physical injuries caused by workplace accidents represent the most frequent type of workers’ comp claim, there are issues associated with mental health that can lead to a workers’ compensation claim.

Stress in the workplace comes in many forms, from having to meet a tight deadline to dealing with a difficult co-worker. Does this mean you can receive financial assistance for suffering from stress in the workplace? California does not have a specific law that addresses stress in the workplace, but you have the right to file a workers’ comp claim for a psychiatric injury caused by stress.

How to Get Workers’ Compensation for Workplace Stress

If you suffer from stress in the workplace, you might qualify to receive workers’ compensation benefits under California Labor Code 3208.3. The following criteria must apply to establish eligibility for a psychiatric injury:

  • You worked for the same employer for a minimum of six consecutive months
  • A litigation process did not trigger your stress symptoms
  • You have received a diagnosis for a psychiatric condition as outline in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V)
  • Your attorney can demonstrate that at least 51 percent of your stress symptoms developed because of the workplace
  • Reasonable actions taken by your employer such as denying a promotion did not cause your stress symptoms

The Importance of Submitting Medical Evidence

Although it is possible to receive workers’ compensation for a psychiatric injury, it is difficult to do because such an injury is not easy to diagnose. The diagnosing of a psychiatric injury caused by stress requires a detailed examination conducted by a qualified mental health professional. Your physician’s diagnosis, as well as testimony to the presence of stress symptoms, goes a long way towards determining whether your claim is approved or denied. Additional evidence such as test data, personal medical records, and depositions given by friends, relatives, and co-workers is helpful as well.

What Happens If Your Claim is Denied?

Even if your doctor determines that your stress symptoms pose a serious threat to your health, that does not mean your workers’ compensation claim will be approved. If you received a denial on your claim, what other options do you have to take care of the stress symptoms?

Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you can receive time off for an unpaid leave to address the seriousness of your stress symptoms. If your employer attempts to deny your leave, reduce the time of your leave, or intimidates you into not taking leave, you have the right to sue for monetary damages. The FMLA and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) both provide helpful options for you to take care of the symptoms caused by workplace stress.

California represents one of the most worker-friendly states for workers’ compensation laws. However, like a vast majority of states, California has not passed comprehensive legislation that provides benefits for many mental health issues that develop because of the workplace. The Long Beach, California workers’ compensation lawyers at PLBSH Law Firm can walk you through the workers’ compensation process.

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