Workers’ compensation is generally awarded for physical injuries an employee suffers on-the-job, or while performing a duty directly related to their employment. However, it is actually reserved for an employee that experiences any kind of trauma that later affects their ability to work. For many employees that see or participate in a particularly violent or stressful event, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can become a problem that ultimately warrants workers’ comp benefits.
Examples of employees that may suffer PTSD are:
- Police officers forced to shoot a suspect
- Detectives investigating a gruesome crime scene
- Firefighters, medics, or doctors that fail to save someone’s life
- Industrial workers who witness the death of a coworker
Diagnosing PTSD After a Work-Related Event
Each person will respond to a dangerous, violent, or upsetting situation differently than the next. An event that traumatizes one person might not even upset the workers standing right next to them. This is part of the difficulty of gaining workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD: determining if the applicant has actually been sufficiently traumatized.
In order to gain approval for workers’ comp for PTSD, two things generally need to occur:
- Psychological evaluation: An employee that believes he or she has suffered PTSD due to an injury or event on-the-job will undoubtedly need to undergo psychological evaluations. A medical evaluation, like a CAT scan, might also be necessary, as this can reveal clear evidence of brain trauma. If a psychological expert does not believe the patient actually has PTSD, it might be possible to use a second- or third-opinion. Keep in mind that the insurance company will be more than skeptical about the claim and will need to see convincing evidence.
- Actual debilitation: Having PTSD is one thing, but having PTSD that is severe enough to limit your ability to perform job functions is something else altogether. You cannot expect to receive workers’ compensation benefits for just PTSD if you are still able to complete your duties as normal. You may need the written word of coworkers that have seen your change in mental health since the incident to back up your claim and strengthen your case.
At Pacific Workers' Compensation Law Center, our Oakland workers’ compensation attorneys know that obtaining workers’ comp benefits due to a work-related PTSD can be extremely difficult. Using our 65+ years of combined legal experience and really getting to know you as our client, we hope to empower your claim and maximize your chances of getting the support you need in such a trying time. Call (888) 740-6434 or contact us online to start discussing your options. We are here to help.