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Employees may be most familiar with workers’ compensation coverage for physical injury and illness in the workplace. Psychological injury, however, can also be eligible for coverage. Commonly called “stress claims,” psychological injuries may be associated with a workplace injury, or they may be entirely separated. Here is what you need to know about filing a claim for psychological injury in California:
As part of a psychological injury claim, the claim must prove that:
These claims are typically more challenging to pursue because there may not be a physical manifestation that something is debilitating. Psychologically based claims are also challenging because a mental disorder may be caused by a number of different personal or professional factors. In California, an employee must make a case that at least 51% of the psychological consequences were caused by the work environment.
Evidence can make a case for a psychological injury very strong. Professional correspondence, professional psychological evaluation, and other supporting documentation can help prove a work environment was responsible for the mental difficulty.
Employers who are discriminatory, fail to uphold contract terms, fail to offer legal benefits, or otherwise behave in bad faith can be held responsible for any psychological injury resulting from the behavior. Conversely, an employer who has used the appropriate channels for criticism, promotion denial, or performance review cannot be held accountable through a psychological claim.
Proving a psychological injury claim can be a stressful process. The burden of proof lies with the claimant and may require extensive medical histories, financial history, and family history. Every part of an employee’s life will be scrutinized to determine the validity of the claim. A physician’s testimony, including details of the work environment, job satisfaction, and performance reviews may also be required. Extensive interviews with family members and other statements and records may also be part of the process.
Employees pursuing a mental injury claim may have a difficult time recovering permanent disability compensation. Often, the assumption is an employee will make a full recovery once removed from the mentally harmful environment. In some cases, claimants who can prove permanent consequences from the environment may be eligible for permanent disability benefits.
In some cases, psychological injury may accompany a physical injury. These cases may be easier to prove because of the association with a physical injury. Many chronic pain and long-term recovery processes can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. The connected claim may lead to a higher benefit level for employees who have been both mentally and physically affected by a workplace injury.
If you have been suffering from workplace-related stress, don’t stay quiet. Your job should not cause excessive mental duress. Contact a licensed and certified psychologist or psychiatrist for help, and consider consulting an attorney about filing a psychological injury workers’ compensation claim. Depending on the circumstances, there may be a larger legal matter that needs to be addressed in the organization. Being discriminated against, taken advantage of, or verbally or physically abused is never acceptable.
An attorney at DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo can help you determine if you can file a workers’ compensation claim for psychological injury. While some employees choose to file claims on their own, those dealing with injury may find the help of an attorney eases the stress associated with filing. Contact our office today for a free consultation with a workers comp lawyer in Orange County.