What to Know about Worker Injury and Mental Distress

For so many people, workplace stress is almost normal, or a way of life. However, did you know that if your stress is directly caused by your workplace conditions that you may actually have a workers’ compensation claim? Here is what you need to know about worker injury and mental distress.

Worker Injury and Mental Distress

Everyone suffers from stress, but some conditions or events are so significant that they cause mental distress or anguish. Unfortunately, it is often more difficult to prove mental injuries than physical ones. There is no blood test or x-ray to establish your mental health. It is important to understand how California law treats workers’ compensation claims, also called “stress claims”. First, you must be able to establish that you have suffered mental or emotional harm. To do this, you must:

  • Have a diagnosed “mental disorder”
  • Be undergoing treatment or be disabled
  • Be on the same job for at least six months (unless a sudden condition or event caused the injury)
  • Prove that “actual events of employment” were the cause. That means you must show that workplace conditions or events are at least 51 percent responsible for the harm you have suffered.

Some examples of conditions that may warrant such a claim include:

  • Abusive employer or supervisor
  • Hostile work environment
  • Discrimination
  • Being overworked to exhaustion
  • Being threatened

In short, you must be able to establish that your personal life or general struggles were not the cause of your condition. You also cannot make a workers’ compensation claim based on having been laid off or terminated for nondiscriminatory, legal reasons.

Benefits for Workers Injured by Mental Distress

If you qualify for a claim, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits including medical treatment, temporary disability, or lost wages. To find out what benefits you may qualify for, contact a workers’ compensation attorney.

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