You can claim compensation for a psychological injury at the workplace, but the process for doing so can be more complex than seeking compensation for a physical injury. If you would like assistance with filing or pursuing your claim, consider hiring a workers’ comp attorney to represent you.
What Are Workplace Psychological Injuries?
The phrase “workplace injuries” may bring to mind physical injuries resulting from falls, malfunctioning equipment, or heavy lifting. However, your job could also place you at risk of developing mental health problems. These could include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder or another condition related to a physical incident, such as a motor vehicle accident
- A mental illness related to a very hostile or stressful work environment that places you in physically dangerous situations
- A mental illness brought on by the pain and disability associated with a physical workplace injury
Conditions for Receiving Benefits
According to LAB § 3208.3, “psychiatric” injuries are compensable only under certain conditions. These conditions include the following:
- You must receive an official diagnosis from a qualified medical professional
- The condition must result in a “disability” or require professional treatment
- You must prove that your job caused your injury and that no other factor played a significant role in the development of your illness
- Except in “extraordinary” cases, you must have been employed by this employer for at least six months before you file
If you think you qualify to claim compensation for a psychological injury at the workplace, you should take action as soon as you can after your diagnosis. This way, you:
- Establish a stronger connection between your work environment and your diagnosis
- Give your lawyer more time to find persuasive evidence linking your condition to your job
- May get your money somewhat sooner—workers’ comp claims can take a while to resolve, but the earlier you get started, the sooner you could reach the finish line
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim for Psychological Injury
The process for filing a claim based on a psychiatric injury is the same as it is for filing based on a physical injury. According to the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), you will have to:
- Report the injury to your employer as soon as possible (this includes filling out paperwork)
- Wait for your employer to file a claim with their insurer, or file the claim yourself if your employer will not do so
- Comply with the employer’s insurer’s requests to provide further information about the injury, go to another doctor, and so on
An Attorney Can Prevent Unnecessary Delays or Denials
Making a single mistake at any point in your claim could give the insurer a reason to deny you compensation. Instead of taking that risk, you can allow a workers’ compensation lawyer to:
- Review your paperwork before you file to ensure you have selected the right form, included all pertinent information, and so on
- Speak with the insurance company and other parties on your behalf wherever possible
- Work with you to determine your case’s monetary value and find evidence to support the amount you seek
It is likely you will run into resistance from your employer or their insurer regarding your claim. If they try to shortchange you, your attorney could continue fighting for the money you really need by filing an objection and arguing your case in front of a judge.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Psychological Injuries
How much money can you get if your employer accepts your workers’ compensation claim?
That depends. Your California workers’ compensation attorney can figure out how much you deserve for:
- Medical treatment: Workers’ comp could cover your medication, psychiatrist or psychologist appointments, and other mental healthcare. It could also cover treatment for any physical injuries you sustained.
- Disability: If you are unable to work, either temporarily or permanently, because of your psychiatric injury, you can ask for a percentage of your usual wages to help you cover living expenses.
- Other expenses: Workers’ comp benefits may cover the cost of parking while you receive treatment or even the cost of retraining as you prepare yourself for a new career.
If an employee passes away due to a psychological injury incurred at work, their surviving dependents can seek death benefits.These are the same types of benefits available to those who suffered a physical injury. Psychological injuries are no less important, so you deserve compensation just as much as someone with a physical injury.
Proving Your Psychological Injury Is Work-Related
While the law does give you the right to seek workers’ comp based on psychological injuries, that does not mean the claims process will be easy. An attorney with experience in workers’ compensation cases can strengthen your case by seeking evidence from various sources, including:
- Your medical records: An official diagnosis of a mental illness is essential. Your records can also show that you did not have similar psychiatric injuries until the incident (or accumulation of incidents) at your workplace.
- Your employer’s records: These can demonstrate that your accident really happened, that your job is very dangerous, or that your employer has a history of failing to consider their employees’ mental health.
- Your coworkers, friends, and family: People you work with can confirm details about your work environment and the challenges you face at work. Friends and family can speak to your overall mental health and how it has changed over time.
- Relevant audiovisual footage: If any photographs or videos exist that show your workplace or the specific incident that caused your injury, your lawyer can look for them.
Claiming compensation for a work-related psychological injury may not be easy, but it is far from impossible. If you want help navigating this complex but vital process, you can always speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer about your situation.
You Deserve Compensation for Psychological Injury
KJT Law Group wants each of our clients to receive the workers’ compensation they deserve, regardless of whether their injury was physical or psychological. With our help, you can claim compensation for a psychological injury at the workplace. Get started today by calling our office at (818) 507-8525.