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Mental Injuries and Workers’ Comp

• Oct 21st, 2013

Most on the job injuries are physical, but sometimes psychological or psychiatric injuries also occur. Although they are almost always impossible to see, they are just as real as physical injuries. Workers’ compensation insurance requires that a worker must sustain an injury that occurs in and arises out of the course of employment. Some mental injuries can be difficult to prove. For example a heart attack caused by work-related stress may not happen until after working in a stressful environment for a long period of time. Also, unlike claims for physical injuries, it may not be related to one particular incident.

Workers’ compensation separates mental disability cases into three categories: physical-mental, mental-physical, and mental-mental. A physical-mental claim involves a physical workplace injury that has progressed to a mental condition or disability. For example, a worker suffers an injury that lingers, showing no signs of improvement for months; it could cause discouragement which could lapse into severe clinical depression. A mental-physical claim involves a psychological condition arising out of the worker’s employment that has caused a physical illness. An example of this type of injury would be ulcers that are induced by stress in the workplace. A mental-mental claim involves a psychological occurrence in the course of employment, which leads to a psychological injury. These cases are also referred to as “pure stress” claims and are usually the least recognized or compensated. One example of this could be witnessing a horrific accident at work involving the injury of a co-worker. This could lead a worker to develop a fear of operating the equipment on which their co-worker was injured. Currently, the state of Georgia does not allow workers’ compensation benefits for this type of psychological injury.

Mental injuries, just like physical ones, can be debilitating and require treatment by healthcare professionals and time for healing. If you are suffering from a psychological or psychiatric injury you believe to be work-related, a knowledgeable lawyer can advise you and assist you in receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

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