Eligibility will depend on whether you can prove that your diagnosis is related to work.
When most people think of workers’ compensation, they likely consider workplace accidents that cause injury — like a fall from scaffolding or getting crushed by machinery. Yet workers’ compensation covers more than just serious accidents. If an employee develops an occupational illness or is injured at work, they may be eligible for benefits under their employer’s workers’ compensation policy. In some cases, a person who developed a mental illness as a result of work may also qualify for benefits.
In the California workers’ compensation system, any type of work-related injury or illness may entitle you to benefits. Depending on the facts of your claim, this may include emotional and/or mental health injuries or illnesses that you suffer as a result of your job.
According to a California workers’ comp attorney, not every mental health injury or illness will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. It must be severe enough to interfere with your ability to do your job. For example, if you have been diagnosed with work-related stress or anxiety, you must be able to show that it is so overwhelming that you cannot function at work.
You must also be able to prove that your mental health condition is related to work. For some employees, this may be as simple as pointing to a traumatic experience at work. In these more extreme cases — like a workplace shooting — the link between the event and a mental health diagnosis is more clear. However, in other situations, a diagnosis may be the result of an ongoing difficult work environment rather than an isolated event.
For example, an emergency medical technician may develop anxiety after spending shift after shift encountering traumatic or life-threatening situations. If the EMT’s ability to work is compromised as a result of their anxiety diagnosis, then they may be able to seek workers’ comp benefits for their medical treatment and lost wages.
It can often be difficult to prove that there is a link between a mental health condition and your job. This is especially true because many mental health injuries happen over time — rather than during a single event. It is also challenging to separate work-related issues from problems in your personal life that could contribute to your stress or anxiety. For example, you may have a boss who sets unreasonable deadlines and always screams at you — but you may also be experiencing difficulties at home, such as having to take care of an aging parent. In these situations, it can be hard to prove that your stress or anxiety was caused only by your work.
A California workers’ comp attorney can work with you to prove that your anxiety is work-related. This can be done by documenting both your diagnosis as well as the conditions at your workplace. By building evidence in this way, you have a better chance of being approved for workers’ compensation for anxiety.
At PBLSH, we are dedicated to helping employees across California who are unable to work due to an injury or illness. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.