Search
  • Barsoum Law

Can I get workers’ compensation for mental or emotional injuries?



If you live in California, then yes. Unlike many other states, California law permits compensation for work related psychological or emotional injuries. So as long as your mental or emotional condition was derived from your work environment and having worked for the employer for at least 6 months prior to the diagnosed condition, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

It should be noted, however, that there is a higher threshold of evidence for instances of mental or emotional workplace injuries. For one, it can be difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to prove since the very nature of these conditions is subjective to the person experiencing them. “Stress from work” is not going to be sufficient to file for workers’ comp. You will need to meet the DWC’s definition of psychological injury and provide evidence that your condition appeared or severely worsened as a direct result of your working environment.


What counts as a mental or emotional injury?

Also known as “mental claims” or “stress claims,” these kinds of injuries often refer to diagnosable psychological conditions that arise from traumatic experiences, and are not typically related to physical injury. PTSD cases that result from physical injury or abuse, for example, would be treated more like a regular injury or illness. Symptoms of work related mental or emotional injury may include heightened anxiety, insomnia, stress, and depression, to the point of not being able to perform your regular work duties. Note that ‘stress’ alone is not considered a psychological/psychiatric condition but rather as a symptom of other possible conditions.

Psychological injury claims are made when someone is either the primary or secondary victim of an accident. Being a primary victim means that you were directly involved with the incident. Like being a recipient of sexual harassment or verbal abuse. Being a secondary victim means that you were witness to an accident involving someone else and/or the accident’s immediate aftermath. Like the death or serious illness of a close friend or family member. In both situations a person’s emotional/mental response arises from the impact or memory of a particular event. Workers’ comp cases as a primary victim are much more likely to receive compensation but in the end it all depends on the severity of symptoms and quality of evidence provided.

How do I provide evidence of work related mental or emotional injury?

Purely psychological or emotional injuries are trickier to prove because of the subjectivity of a worker’s experiences. An x-ray can give objective evidence of physical injuries, and a blood exam may give indication of a physiological illness, but evidence of work related mental/stress claims will differ from person to person. And different psychiatrists may diagnose similar symptoms differently depending on someone’s mental history. This difficulty in diagnosing and providing evidence is why workers’ comp claims for depression and anxiety are routinely denied by employers and insurance companies.

According to California law, in order to prove that a mental or emotional injury is severe enough to warrant compensation and truly job related, workers will need to satisfy additional requirements.

These requirements include:

  • Having one of the specific psychological/psychiatric conditions outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (i.e. a known and diagnosable condition)

  • Having worked for the employer for at least 6 months (not necessarily continuous) prior to the diagnosed condition, unless the injury resulted from a sudden, traumatic event

  • Proof that employment “predominantly” led to the diagnosed condition (i.e. timesheets of long graveyard shifts with few breaks or a written testimony from colleagues and/or family attesting to your mental/emotional state)

  • Proof of disability or required medical treatment as a result of the diagnosed condition (like being unable to work or having been prescribed medicine by a physician or psychiatrist)

  • A detailed testimony from a treating physician supporting the workers’ comp claim

Note: Reasonable criticism of a worker’s performance, punctuality, or attendance cannot be given as reasons for mental or emotional injury, even if you felt personally offended. And the process of litigation itself cannot be used as a cause for depression or anxiety.

Lastly, even if your claim succeeds, you are unlikely to receive permanent disability benefits. This is because you are essentially claiming that your mental or emotional injury is due to your working environment. So if the working environment were to change, your condition would presumably improve.

Getting help

There is no shame in seeking help. Emotional and psychological conditions can be just as damaging and painful as physical injuries and often more complicated to cure. Mental health problems can hurt not just your work life, but your activity and social interactions outside of work as well. But compensation can help you restore your day-to-day life.

If you’re unsure about whether to file for mental health compensation or how to proceed with the claims process, don’t hesitate to contact a workers’ compensation attorney. Because legal background or no, any employee injured on the job (whether physical or psychological) is entitled to benefits. And Barsoum Law is committed to help. We offer a personal focus and individualized care that large corporate firms do not. Our multilingual, multicultural team is dedicated to making sure you obtain the compensation you deserve.

If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, Barsoum Law can and will help. We have represented thousands of injured workers throughout California the past 25 years.

Contact us today at 877-299-1555 or info@barsoumlaw.com to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.


Summary

If you live in California, then yes. Unlike many other states, California law permits compensation for work-related psychological or emotional injuries. So as long as your mental or emotional condition was derived from your work environment, you are entitled to workers’ compensation.

Also known as “mental claims” or “stress claims,” these kinds of injuries often refer to diagnosable psychological conditions that arise from traumatic experiences, and are not typically related to physical injury. Note that ‘stress’ alone is not considered a psychological/psychiatric condition but rather a symptom of other possible conditions.

Purely psychological or emotional injuries are trickier to prove because of the subjectivity of a worker’s experiences. An x-ray can give objective evidence of physical injuries, and a blood exam may give an indication of a physiological illness, but evidence of work-related mental/stress claims will differ from person to person. This difficulty in diagnosing and providing evidence is why workers’ comp claims for depression and anxiety are routinely denied by employers and insurance companies.

Even if your claim succeeds, you are unlikely to receive permanent disability benefits. This is because you are essentially claiming that your mental or emotional injury is due to your working environment. So if the working environment were to change, your condition would presumably improve.

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All