Is There Workers' Compensation for Mental Illness?

Posted By Thomas F. Martin, PLC || 24-Oct-2016

The typical workers’ compensation claim involves a physical injury sustained while on the job. Physical injury is not, however, the only thing that can be covered by workers’ comp benefits in California. Mental illnesses can also be eligible for coverage, but often stir up controversy from employers and insurance providers.

If an employee believes that have suffered a completely psychological injury due to their occupation, it may be called a stress claim. As the name suggest, stress claims typically cite high levels of stress directly induced by employment that is not mitigated by management. Mental illnesses that could potentially be covered by California’s workers’ compensation program run the gamut from depression to anxiety to acute mental breakdowns.

Employers and their insurance companies are often quick to deny claims filed solely for psychological trauma due to the fact that it can be difficult to pinpoint cause and effect. The argument could be made by the insurer that even if a mental disorder related to work does exist, contributing factors outside of work may have made it worse or noticeable. That is to say, the employer may be able to dodge responsibility much more easily than any sort of physical injury.

Workers’ Comp Requirements for Psychiatric Injuries

In order for a worker to receive workers’ comp for mental illnesses:

  • They must have a diagnosed mental illness that is known to cause debilitation or requires some sort of medical treatment.
  • They must have been employed by their employer for at least six months.
  • They must show that the mental illness originates mainly from their occupation.

In order to meet this last requirement, a worker will often need to exposure avenues of their private life to their employer. They and their insurer will be looking for any other sign or event that could cause stress or depression to try to put blame back onto your personal issues. If they can find evidence of unpaid debts, family law disputes, drug or alcohol use, and so on, it could hurt your chances of getting compensation while you try to recover.

When it comes down to it, fighting for workers’ compensation based on a stress claim can easily cause even more stress. To avoid this nasty cycle and decrease your chances of running into a wrongful claim denial, make certain you work with Thomas F. Martin, PLC. Our Santa Ana and Orange County workers’ comp attorney has been listed in “Best Lawyers in America” and has earned an AV Preeminent® rating by Martindale-Hubbell® for skills, ethics, and standards. Discover what our firm can do for you by calling 714.594.5389 and requesting a free case evaluation today.

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