If you have experienced a psychological injury at work, you can claim for compensation with a workers compensation lawyer. However, you must be able to show that either, a) you experienced a psychologically related trauma at work, or b) you are experiencing a form of mental incapacity as a result of a physical injury that occurred at work.
But showing you are experiencing a mental injury can be quite subjective, therefore, you will need medical evidence and possibly the testimony of a psychologist or family member. They can attest to the changes you are claiming in your mental health.
As with any medically oriented claim, before you can prove it you must understand the types of claims that qualify as being compensable. Therefore, it is important to understand what can cause a work related mental stress claim and what a mental disability might look like. If you think you (or someone you know) has experienced a psychological injury at work, please don't hesitate to get in contact with one of our personal injury lawyers.
- What can cause a psychological injury?
- What forms can psychological injury take?
- How do you prove a psychological injury?
- How to claim for a psychological injury at work
- Compensation for a work related psychological injury
- Psychological injuries & physical injuries
What can cause a psychological injury at work?
A psychological injury at work can arise from a single traumatic incident, such as witnessing an accident or death of a coworker. It can also arise out of various forms of abuse in the workplace. The abuse can take several forms including:
- Being overworked
- Denial of personal or vacation time off
- Sexual harassment
- Dealing with difficult personalities
- Poor physical working conditions
- Threatened job security
What forms can psychological injury take?
When determining if you have suffered a psychological injury at work, a physician or psychologist/psychiatrist may look for the following symptoms;
- Irrational Fear
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Psychiatric diagnoses
If your symptoms are identifiable and relatable to a single incident at work, or a series of behaviours imparted upon you by your co-workers or superiors, it is possible for a doctor to find that you are experiencing a stress related work injury.
How do you prove that you suffered a psychological injury at work?
Much like a physical injury, in order to prove a mental health
work related injury, you will need to show that you have had an
experience(s) at work that has contributed to, or caused, a decline
in your mental health.
Hence, you will need to show that you were functioning in a mentally healthy capacity until you were exposed to the work related circumstances. If you are able to do this, you will be able to support a work related claim for mental injury.
How do you make a claim for a psychological injury at work?
As with a physical injury or repetitive stress injury, you will need to do the following;
- Give notice to your employer that you believe you are experiencing a work related mental injury.
- Complete any paperwork to start the process of making a claim. Your employer should supply you with these forms at the time you give notice.
- Be prepared to give adequate details of both the incident(s) that caused the injury and the symptoms you are experiencing.
- Answer all of the questions thoroughly and to the best of your ability.
- Seek medical attention from your own private physician.
- Provide your employer with the medical evidence you claim supports your case.
An employer must follow up on your claim by doing the following;
- Provide you with the necessary forms to fill out to substantiate your claim.
- Contact their insurance carrier and inform them that a claim for a mental health injury is being made.
- Provide the necessary information to the insurance carrier, i.e. employee and basis for claim.
- Confirm with you that the process has been put into motion to review your claim.
Compensation for a work related psychological injury
Recovery for a work related mental health injury will vary depending upon the severity of your injury.
For example, a minor case of anxiety might not yield as much as a severe incident that caused significant post-traumatic stress. Until you have presented evidence of the original source of the injury, received treatment, and had your condition regularly treated and updated, it would be impossible to give the specific amount of damages you might be entitled to.
Can I seek compensation for a psychological injury that arises out of the pain, discomfort & disability of a physical injury?
The short answer: yes. You can seek compensation for a psychological or mental illness that results from a physical work related injury.
This type of psychological injury is known as a 'secondary injury', and is quite common. When people become physically injured or debilitated, the pain and loss they suffer can cause depression, anxiety and a sense of hopelessness or worthlessness. People can often feel like they will never return to work or to their old, healthy selves. Being under this kind of pressure and pain can significantly affect one's mental health - for which an injured person can be compensated.
Therefore, it is very important that if you are experiencing any secondary mental health symptoms, due to a work-related physical injury, that you inform your doctor, employment lawyer and employer immediately. By doing so, you will ensure that your common law claim is expanded to include your mental health issues or psychological illnesses.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.