Stress is increasingly being recognized as a justifiable injury for the purpose of workers’ compensation benefits. It isn’t as straight-forward to claim such an injury as a physical one, but states are beginning to allow for stress to be a legitimate work-related injury deserving of injury compensation.
Each state has its own workers’ compensation commission. The purpose of such an agency is to compensate workers for injuries that happen at work without workers having to go through the court system, thus saving employers and employees a lot of money. When an injury occurs, it is important for an employee to follow the requisite procedures in order to properly file a claim. One of the most important things to do is to provide the employer with proper notice within a specific amount of time. Each state varies on how much time is given. Another important step to take is to document the injury as much as possible. This is even more important for a stress-related injury. See a physician in order for them to document the progression of the injury. Recent court cases have stressed the need for a worker claiming a stress injury to document the permanence of the injury. This can come in a variety of ways, including work evaluations, human resource documentation, medical reports, prescription drug history, and testimony.
In some instances, a single event can be enough to establish a case for stress-related workers’ compensation. An example would include situations involving stressful events like for police and firefighters or an event like a workplace shooting, work building collapse, or employee death. Workers’ compensation commissions in many states are divided about when a worker can claim something like post-traumatic stress. Some states require an employee to have an experience that is unusual for the job, so a police officer would maybe not be able to claim a stress injury for a shooting, for instance.
To add to the stress of an injured worker is the hassle of pursuing a stress-related claim in the absence of a physical injury. Be prepared to face a lot of skepticism and provide a lot of documentation.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Your case may be different. Hiring an attorney immediately will protect your rights. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.