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When can you seek workers’ comp for a mental injury?

Most everyone’s job at least occasionally makes them sad, angry or frustrated. However, what if your job has caused you to suffer from depression or aggravated your already-diagnosed depression or mental condition?

Proving that your job has caused you to suffer a mental injury such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety is often more challenging than proving a physical injury. However, people can and do receive workers’ compensation benefits for mental issues.

Let’s look at depression. Much more is known about it than in the past. Chronic depression isn’t just a matter of feeling sad. It’s a mental state that can be debilitating if the sufferer doesn’t receive the proper treatment.

Some work-related depression results from a physical injury suffered on the job. If a disabling or disfiguring work-related injury has led to depression, you may need workers’ comp to treat that even after you no longer need to be treated for your physical injury.

Employees who seek workers’ comp benefits for a mental condition need a doctor or psychiatrist to stipulate that the condition was either caused or exacerbated by a work-related event or work conditions. States vary in their legal requirements for proving that a person who has suffered a mental or psychological injury is eligible for workers’ comp.

Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act divides them into three categories. Each has a different burden of proof. These are:

Physical/mental injury: This is when a mental condition is caused by a physical event. This could be an injury, as discussed earlier, or perhaps an incident of workplace violence.

Mental/physical injury: This is when an employee’s work-related depression or other mental condition causes a physical ailment, such as an ulcer or severe headaches.

Mental/mental injury: This is when a person develops a psychological condition because their overall work conditions are highly stressful or perhaps they’ve undergone a single traumatic event at work. A person who’s constantly the victim of sexual harassment, for example, might begin to suffer from depression and/or anxiety.

If you believe you should receive workers’ comp benefits for work-related depression or other psychological issue, it’s wise to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney who can help you build a strong case. With the appropriate benefits, you can take the time you need to heal and get the treatment you need.


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