When many people think about workers’ comp, they imagine making claims for strains and sprains, serious cuts, contusions, or other physical complaints, as those are the most common issues. However, you can also make workers’ comp claims for psychological issues such as anxiety. To guide you in the right direction, here are five facts about workers’ comp claims for psychological issues.
1. Wisconsin Acknowledges Three Types of Psychological Injuries
Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation laws acknowledge three different types of potential mental injuries, including the following:
- Physical-mental issues involving physical work injuries such as chronic pain that lead to mental issues such as PTSD, depression, or psychogenic pain disorder
- Mental-physical issues where work stress causes a physical issue, such as a heart attack or a stroke
- Mental-mental issues when a traumatic event triggers a mental health issue such as PTSD
In all of these situations, you need to establish that job stress leads to the issue, but you also need to prove the stress was unexpected for your industry.
2. the Incident Needs to Meet an Extraordinary Stress Standard
Workers experience stress every day, but the amount and type of stress can vary dramatically depending on your job and industry. When reviewing workers’ comp claims for psychological issues, the workers’ comp board assesses whether or not the incident causing the mental health issue is extraordinary compared to the standard stress expected for that job. This standard is different for every professional.
For instance, police officers, paramedics, firefighters, and other emergency personnel often see gruesome injuries during working hours. However, office workers, librarians, and countless other professionals are not as likely to encounter gruesome scenes on the job, and as a result, these professionals may be able to make a claim for an event that is considered standard for emergency personnel professional.
3. the Condition Must Cause Permanent Impairment
To make a successful claim, you must prove that your mental health condition causes permanent impairment. In particular, your mental health issue must prevent you from working. To give you an example, imagine that you see a coworker being cut in half by some machinery. The incident was not expected, and as a result of witnessing it, you develop PTSD.
You have constant flashbacks of the incident, you can’t focus on your job, and you start to experience anxiety that gets in the way of daily functioning, whether you are at work or not. In this situation, you explain to the workers’ comp board how those symptoms prevent you from working and how they are connected to the workplace incident.
4. You Need to See a Mental Health Professional
To make a workers’ comp claim for a physical issue, you have to see a doctor about your complaint. Similarly, if you have a psychological concern, you need to see a mental health professional. Ideally, you should meet with a mental health professional as soon as possible, and you should be prepared to talk extensively about the symptoms you are experiencing and how your work environment contributes to these concerns.
5. the Mental Health Issue Cannot Be From Other Causes
In an attempt to reject your claim, your employer or the workers’ comp board may say that your mental health issue was not related to a workplace incident. Unfortunately, this often happens if you have a history of mental health issues, substance abuse, or related concerns. To be on the safe side, you need a workers’ comp attorney who can bring together the right medical records, notes, and evidence to prove that your condition was created or worsened by your job.
Making a successful workers’ comp claim can be challenging, and when you’re dealing with psychological issues, the process can be even harder. To increase your chances of getting your claim approved, you should work with a quality attorney who understands the workers’ comp process in your state.
To get help, contact us today. At Stafford, Neal & Soule, S.C., we specialize in workers’ comp claims for people in Wisconsin.