When most people think of workers' compensation claims, they picture physical injuries and accidents. But, in reality, on-the-job injuries can entail a lot more than an easily identifiable accident that happens while you work. It can also take the form of mental health injuries.
But how can you claim workers' compensation for health issues that aren't so obvious to spot? Read this short guide to learn how to get the coverage you need to combat mental health challenges from your work.
Learn the Rules
Even though your own mental health injuries may be crystal clear to you, you must prove them in a legal environment.
First, educate yourself about the state rules for workers' compensation claims regarding mental or emotional health. These requirements differ by state, so be clear about what you need to do in your court system. In South Carolina, for instance, you must be able to demonstrate that the injury or cause was extraordinary and not part of the normal working conditions of your job.
For example, if you have a stress-related breakdown due to working long hours or being denied a transfer, this is unlikely to be so extraordinary as to warrant a workers' compensation claim. A company that ignores a manager who threatens employees, on the other hand, is more likely to lose a case when an employee claims that this behavior is extraordinary and abnormal.
Show the Effects
You must be able to clearly show - to the satisfaction of the courts - that you have, indeed, suffered an identifiable injury. Stress, for instance, manifests in different ways - including physical symptoms like headaches, chronic pain, frequent sickness, insomnia, depression, and appetite change. Workplace bullying produces similar symptoms, as well as decreased productivity or an increase in the need for antidepressant medications.
Catalog all physical manifestations of your psychological injury, and work with a respected doctor to link these symptoms to stress rather than to a different medical issue.
Create a Clear Link
Because psychological injuries aren't easy to see, you must be able to demonstrate a clear link between your employer and the conditions of your work and your health issues. This is often the trickiest part of any mental health workers' compensation case. There are a few general causes for worker injuries. These include things like:
Physical injury. If you had an accident that caused physical injury, you may be able to easily demonstrate that you also suffered psychological injuries. You may also suffer side effects, such as depression, from the recovery or post-traumatic stress disorder from the original incident.
Stress. Stress is a leading source of both physical and emotional injury in the U.S. And the work environment can easily cause stress injuries due to overwork, demanding bosses, lack of job security, and stressful coworkers.
Work Conditions. Companies that allow the conditions in which employees labor to deteriorate may cause mental and emotional injury to workers. Negative working conditions may include things like sexual harassment, racism or other dangerous biases, or failure to accommodate employees' legitimate needs.
Your workers' compensation attorney will help you determine the primary cause of your psychological injuries and whether they stem from negligence on the part of your employer.
Show Your History
When it comes to showing clearly how you've been injured, one key ingredient will be your good work history. Have you developed a solid reputation as a dependable and trustworthy employee? Do you arrive on time and complete tasks as assigned? Have you given prior employers no reason to complain about you?
As a good employee with a solid work history, you can show that your mental or emotional health has changed for the worse - and that an outside source is the cause.
Do you think you may have a workers' compensation claim for emotional or mental health problems? Call The McDaniel Law Firm today to speak with our experienced attorneys.