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What Mental Health Issues Fall Under Workers’ Compensation?

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You may suffer injuries at work due to faulty equipment, a slip and fall, or another physical act. When this happens, workers’ compensation covers expenses for your treatment and allows you time to recover. States cover different injuries and illnesses based on their unique compensation systems.

A physical injury does not always cause our ailments, however. Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses can severely impact our productivity and ability to work. Even if the illness is work-related, many states have limited regulations about the use of workers’ compensation for mental health issues.

If you believe that you are suffering from stress and anxiety as a result of your job, speak to an Orange County workers compensation lawyer to find out how we can help.

An Overview of Workers’ Compensation

To qualify for workers’ compensation, your injury must be work-related. Your injury must also be severe enough to affect your job performance. Usually, this type of injury requires medical attention beyond a single visit.

  • Injuries that happen while engaging in work-related events and activities
  • Illnesses developed due to long-term exposure to toxic substances, such as cleaning chemicals or asbestos
  • Injuries developed due to extreme physical stress during work
  • Injuries due to repetitive motions performed during work, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Pre-existing conditions that working aggravates

Common types of workers’ compensation injuries include fractures and broken bones, concussions, severe lacerations, and strained muscles, especially in the back. Usually, the employer will require you to visit a doctor to confirm the injury and assess its severity. Injuries can happen due to accidents, negligence, toxin exposure, repetition, and multiple other causes.

Mental Health Claims Under Workers’ Compensation

How do mental health issues fit into the workers’ compensation system? Work-related activities can give rise to conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and extreme stress. If a work-related activity or incident caused or aggravated the condition, you could file a workers’ compensation claim.

Depending on the state, your workers’ compensation could cover mental health issues that arise due to both ongoing conditions and singular events. However, proving that you suffer from these illnesses is more complex than physical injuries. In particular, gathering evidence that your job caused your mental health issues can be quite difficult.

A link must be established between your illness and your job function based on the evidence requirements by your state. Courts will require an explanation as to how the illness is work-related and detail the work conditions that could have objectively led to the illness.

California Workers’ Compensation for Mental Health

Under California labor law, employees can receive workers’ compensation for diagnosed mental illnesses that require treatment or led to disability. To establish the validity of your claim, you will need to establish the following facts.

  • You have a mental illness diagnosed by a medical professional.
  • Your mental illness is severe enough to require treatment or leave you disabled.
  • The primary causes of your illness are work-related conditions or events.

To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in the state of California, you must have worked for the employer for at least six months. To prove your claim, you will need to have the following pieces of evidence.

  • Testimony from the treating physician to verify the illness
  • Medical records
  • Performance reviews
  • A physician’s report containing information about your background, development history, and personal issues
  • Any documentation to support your physician’s diagnosis and your claim

Since mental illnesses are not as objective as physical injuries, proving the link between your work and your condition is complex and difficult. Some people may cast doubt upon your illness and question the validity of your claim.

If you intend to pursue a workers’ compensation claim, discuss your case with an attorney. A workers’ compensation attorney can guide you through the process, help you gather evidence and testimony related to your claim, and provide advice on proving your condition.