Workers’ compensation claims can involve numerous types of accidents and injuries, from falling from scaffolding to suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome after writing all day. However, you may wonder if non-physical injuries and ailments, such as mental stress, could be grounds for a workers’ compensation claim. While the legal framework for these claims can be tricky, it is possible to claim workers’ compensation for stress.
California Workers’ Compensation Laws
Compared to many other states, California is ahead of its counterparts when it comes to workers’ compensation. While the state does not explicitly name stress as an injury you can claim compensation for, you can file a claim for mental health injuries that you suffer as a result of your job.
However, you will need to prove that you suffered your mental injury as a result of your job. Providing evidence for this claim can be very difficult, since you cannot show a physical injury. As a result, many employers and insurance companies can deny mental health-related workers’ comp claims.
The Definition of Psychiatric Injuries in California
In order to receive benefits for workers’ compensation, you need to prove that the injury is workplace-related. For a mental health claim, this means showing that you suffered your stress due to stressful conditions at work. Due to this injury, you cannot perform certain tasks on the job and may have to take time off of work.
You must meet all of the following requirements to successfully file a workers’ compensation claim for a psychiatric injury.
- A doctor diagnosed you with a mental disorder established by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).
- You worked for your employer for at least six months. If your injury came as a result of a sudden, extraordinary condition, you do not need to meet this requirement.
- You had to receive medical treatment or experienced disability as a result of the mental disorder.
- You can prove that your working conditions were the predominant cause of your mental disorder or psychiatric injury.
- You did not suffer the injury as a result of any personal, good faith actions of your employer.
To prove that you satisfy these requirements, you may need to produce documentation such as medical records. You will need to collect additional pieces of evidence that prove your stress injury is work-related. Contact an attorney to determine what evidence you should submit along with your claim.
What Benefits Can You Receive Under Workers’ Comp?
While you may be able to claim certain types of benefits for physical injuries under California workers’ compensation, you may not be able to claim these same benefits for a psychiatric injury. Because of the way that the system verifies these claims, the insurance company may limit the amount you can receive.
For stress injuries, you could receive compensation for medical treatment. You may also be able to claim temporary disability benefits if you need to take time off of work due to your condition. However, you may not be able to receive permanent disability benefits since the system assumes that you could return to work. The company may assume that you could find a less stressful position that will not aggravate your condition.
Do You Need an Attorney for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?
If you are attempting to file a workers’ compensation claim for a stress-related injury, you may run into a few issues. Since the evidence is not physical, you may find that your employer and the insurance company can deny or dismiss your claim. In these situations, you need an attorney to assist you with your case.
A California personal injury attorney will know the processes you need to follow to receive your settlement. In addition, your lawyer can launch an in-depth investigation into your stress injury, helping you build a more compelling case to the insurance company. Contact an attorney as soon as possible after you discover your injury to begin the claims process.