Psychiatric Injury and Mental Stress Claims
When most people think of workers’ compensation claims, they think it only applies to an employee who sustained a physical injury or illness while at work. But California workers’ compensation law also recognizes emotional, mental, and psychiatric conditions that may develop as a result of a work-related physical injury or a traumatic event that occurs on the job.
Proving a psychiatric or mental injury can be particularly difficult because they typically do not present visible signs. Therefore, the majority of workers’ compensation claims based on purely psychological injuries are often denied.
An experienced and compassionate workers’ compensation lawyer can be a great asset to have in pursuing worker’s compensation benefits for emotional, mental, or psychiatric injuries. At the Kenton Koszdin Law Office, our legal team has helped numerous clients obtain significant settlements for work-related injuries, whether physical or psychological. We are dedicated to ensuring that you receive the aid you need to recover from or cope with temporary or permanent disabilities. Call us at (800) 438-7734 for a free evaluation or in-home consultation.
What Psychiatric Injuries are covered by California Workers’ Compensation?
Under California Labor Code 3208.3, to qualify for compensation benefits, a psychiatric injury must meet the following requirements:
- The employee must have at least six months of work history with the employer.
- The psychiatric condition must be listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
- The employee must prove that the actual events of employment are the predominant cause of the psychiatric condition (51% or more).
- A psychiatric condition caused by good faith, non-discriminatory personnel actions does not qualify as a work-related injury. Examples include criticism of the employee’s work or attendance, a change in work assignments, or a decision about raises or promotions. In this case, the employer has the burden of proof.
- A psychiatric condition caused by the litigation process does not qualify for compensation.
- A stress claim or mental-mental psychiatric injury claim filed after termination or notice of termination is not covered by workers’ compensation, unless the employer knew about the employee’s injury or medical records for treatment of the psychiatric treatment prior to the termination.
- Stress is not considered a psychiatric condition, according to DSM-IV.
In order to strengthen your claim and gain credibility, remember that it will also be necessary to seek appropriate treatment or counseling for the alleged trauma.
What Are the Different Types of Psychiatric Claims?
California law recognizes two types of psychiatric claims based on whether the employee has suffered a physical injury or condition in addition to the alleged emotional or mental injury.
- Mental-Physical Claims refer to psychiatric injuries that occur as a result of a physical pain, diminished functional ability, or the loss of a profession related to a work-related injury. Examples of mental-physical claims include sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
- Mental-Mental Claims do not involve a physical injury and may be caused by a traumatic or violent event, such as witnessing or experiencing violence, crime, and threats of physical or sexual abuse at work.
Consider Before Filing a Psychiatric Workers’ Comp Claim in Los Angeles
As with most workers’ compensation claims, it is important to understand the claims process and whether you have a good chance of success. A skilled attorney will be able to evaluate your situation and provide valuable insight to help you make an informed decision.
Most psychological injury cases are heavily scrutinized and all aspects of the employee’s life may be investigated by the insurance company. The insurance company will inquire about your mental health treatment history, marriage, children, parents, criminal history, litigation history, bankruptcies, and other issues. If you do not feel comfortable with disclosing so much personal information, you may want to reconsider filing a psychological or stress claim.
If you worked at the employer for less than two years, you will also have a more difficult time proving your claim unless it is due to a sudden violent event.
If your stress comes from conflict with a supervisor or manager and the conflict concerns your attendance, job performance, job evaluation, job assignment, or other actions that you consider unfair, you claim will most likely be defeated under the good faith personnel action defense.
Finding an Experienced Advocacy That’s Right for You
If you believe that you have suffered a psychiatric injury while on the job, please contact California workers’ compensation attorney Kenton Koszdin. With a skilled legal advocate on your side, your chance for a successful injury claim will be greatly improved. Submit an online contact form or call (800) 438-7734 to learn more.
Related Blogs & Links
- Recognizing the Warning Signs of Excessive Stress at Work
- Mental, Legal Communities Question Cuts in California Workers’ Compensation Mental Health Benefits
- State of California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Workers’ Compensation Preventing Psychiatric Injuries