Each job has its own challenges. So it’s no surprise that almost all of us, at some point in our careers, have become stressed out at work. But sometimes, it goes way beyond the usual work fatigue. There are times that work-related stress evolves into a debilitating anxiety that affects your work and your life in general.
In these instances, you can’t help but ask: can I claim workers compensation for stress?
Remember that workers’ compensation only pays for disabilities caused by work-related injuries. And stress, per se, cannot really be considered an injury unless it leads to a mental disorder. In such a case, you might be able to claim workers’ compensation for stress. But some states do not consider mental disorders arising from stress as a compensable injury. While others will only give out workers comp if the mental disorder is substantiated by clear and convincing medical evidence.
In California, for example, you can claim workers comp if the stress at work leads to or worsened a mental disorder. However, states like Florida will only compensate for mental disorder if it comes with a physical injury.
To know if your work-related stress will qualify you for workers comp, consult an experienced workers comp lawyer like Victor Malca. For almost 3 decades now, he has helped thousands of injured workers in Florida fight for their benefits. He can help you get the benefits you deserve too.
Workers Compensation for Mental Disorders
As they say, not all injuries can be seen by the naked eye. Sometimes, mental disorders can be more disabling than physical ones. But due to the very subjective nature of mental disorders, getting workers comp for it can be extremely difficult. Especially if it’s caused by work-related stress and fatigue.
In Florida, the statutes state that:
A mental or nervous injury due to stress, fright, or excitement only is not an injury by accident arising out of the employment.
It further specifies that:
Mental or nervous injuries occurring as a manifestation of an injury shall be demonstrated by clear and convincing medical evidence by a licensed psychiatrist meeting criteria established in the most recent edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association.
The above provisions aren’t unique to Florida. Most states have strict requirements when it comes to compensating work-related mental disorders. Some states have even gone so far as to establish specific parameters for claims related to stress or mental disorders.
In general, you can only claim workers comp for mental health issues if it’s severe enough to interfere with your ability to work. Though stress and anxiety are typical in the workplace, rarely do they ever reach such severity.
But if you can prove that you have a severe mental disorder because of extreme stress at work, you may be able to claim workers’ compensation.
Proving Your Mental Disorder
It’s easy to claim that you have a debilitating mental disorder. But proving it is another story.
Unlike physical disabilities, mental conditions don’t have very obvious symptoms. For example, you can usually tell by just one look if someone broke their legs or hurt their arms. But it’s pretty difficult to tell if someone is suffering from a mental health issue. Having psychosocial issues doesn’t necessarily mean one has a psychiatric disorder. And some people who are suffering from severe anxiety or depression may appear completely normal.
This is why proving that you have a mental disorder isn’t easy. It’s mostly subjective. You cannot submit a blood test or x-ray result as evidence. Everything depends on what you tell or how you behave in front of your psychiatrist.
As if proving that you have a disabling mental condition isn’t challenging enough, you also have to prove that it’s because of your work. You also have to prove that it’s disabling enough to disrupt your work.
Obviously, the most important evidence to prove your claim is the psychiatrist’s report. But you may also have to submit other documentary evidence such as:
- job history
- performance reviews
- personal history
- sworn testimonies by the people who know you
Because it’s so hard to prove, workers’ comp claims for stress and mental disorders often get denied. If this happens to you and you believe you have a strong claim, you can always take your case to court.
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.
Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.