Most work-related injuries and illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation, but not all injuries are easy to prove. This is especially true of emotional disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A worker who experiences something traumatic or horrific on the job may develop symptoms of PTSD, which can make it nearly impossible to perform essential job duties. If an individual cannot work due to work-related PTSD, is he eligible for workers’ compensation?
What Causes PTSD?
PTSD is defined as an emotional or physical response to the memory of a traumatic event. Often associated with soldiers returning from war, PTSD can occur due to a car accident, domestic abuse, or any type of trauma. The following work-related events may cause PTSD:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Verbal abuse
- Witnessing the death of a co-worker
- Riots in a prison
- Exposure to any type of violence
- Receiving threats
- Bank robbery
Severe injuries, such as burns and amputations
- Being attacked
Certain occupations have a higher than average incidence of traumatic events. These include law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and firefighters. However, any dangerous or high stress work environment comes with an increased risk of developing PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD
Individuals suffering from PTSD may experience the following symptoms:
- Fear of going to work
- Loss of motivation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts
- Sadness, anger, or generally negative feelings
All of the symptoms above could make it difficult for a person suffering from PTSD to perform his job duties. Further, if someone continues to work while suffering from the symptoms above, he could put himself and his co-workers in grave danger. A Boston workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.
So, Does Workers’ Comp Cover PTSD?
In MA, workers’ comp does provide benefits for workers suffering from PTSD, as long as the injury is work-related. That being said, due to the difficulty in proving the existence of PTSD, obtaining benefits can be a serious challenge. While a chemical burn or an amputated finger is visibly obvious, a psychological disability is not. In addition, the worker must prove that his PTSD was caused by a work-related event and was not a pre-existing condition.
PTSD may be a standalone work injury, or it may appear in connection to a more obvious physical injury. In many cases, a worker who sustains severe injuries may recover from the physical injuries long before the PTSD symptoms subside. In fact, PTSD symptoms can linger for years following a traumatic event.
If you apply for workers’ comp for PTSD, your employer’s insurance carrier will do everything possible to avoid paying the claim. The insurer may review your medical records, contact you repeatedly, and even conduct surveillance. As such, it is essential to consult with an experienced MA workers’ comp lawyer if you are suffering from work-related PTSD. Continue reading