Workplace injuries are not limited to physical problems that are easy to see. Sometimes, workers experience mental injuries that require psychological treatments. However, many employees and even their managers are unsure whether these types of so-called hidden injuries can be covered by Workers’ Compensation insurance.
The simple answer is that Workers’ Compensation is designed to provide short-term disability and other financial benefits to workers who have been injured during the course of doing their jobs. Under that definition, psychological injuries should apply. In Pennsylvania, for example, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is covered as a mental injury when it happens because of abnormal working conditions.
Nevertheless, sometimes employees with psychological injuries are denied Workers’ Compensation. Many turn to Workers’ Compensation lawyers for help in reversing initial denials.
What Are Some Types of On-the-Job Psychological Injuries?
Before exploring why psychological injury Workers’ Compensation claims may be denied by insurance carriers or companies, it is useful to talk about common types of workplace psychological injuries. These can include but are not limited to mental injuries related to physical injuries and mental injuries on their own.
Mental injuries related to physical injuries can be somewhat easier to show than purely mental injuries. For instance, if your colleague commits an act of workplace violence against you and you are hurt, you may end up with accompanying fears and anxiety related to being around people or even going back to work. The reverse could be true: You could have so much stress that your mental condition leads you to experience physical problems such as ulcers or chronic headaches.
On the other hand, if you lapse into serious depression because you have been bullied by your boss for months, your reasoning for submitting a Workers’ Compensation claim may be challenged by a questioning insurance adjuster.
Why Are Psychological Injuries Seen as Different from Physical Injuries?
It can be very frustrating for a worker with a psychological workplace injury to receive a denial after submitting a Workers’ Compensation claim. After all, psychological injuries can be just as debilitating and difficult as physical trauma. The underlying problem, though, is that psychological injuries have a few characteristics that make them harder to prove to a Workers’ Compensation insurance provider:
- The injury is invisible. Unlike a broken arm, a psychological injury is virtually impossible to see. Unfortunately, this makes it easier for insurers or employers to ignore, downplay, or deny the injury.
- The origins of the injury may be complicated. Someone who has been previously diagnosed with PTSD may have trouble proving that a recent surge in PTSD symptoms happened because of something at the workplace. Even with supporting evidence from a medical provider such as a therapist, the employee may want to hire a Workers’ Compensation lawyer to help prove correlation.
- They may go hand-in-hand with physical injuries. What happens if you have both physical and psychological injuries? Sometimes, Workers’ Compensation will approve benefits only for the physical injuries. As noted above, you may be able to show a link between your physical and mental injuries. Still, you may find it more difficult than you thought.
How Can I Get a Psychological Injury Approved by Workers’ Compensation?
If you suffered a psychological injury directly related to your work, you have a right to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. You can improve your chances of getting your claim approved immediately or through subsequent appeals by taking the following actions:
- Seek medical help immediately instead of waiting too long. The longer you wait to talk with a professional and receive a diagnosis, the more difficult it could be to connect your injury with something that happened on the job.
- If you are having troubles with coworkers or clients who are causing you psychological distress, let your supervisor or human resources representative know in writing. Having a written record will be helpful in showing the progression of events.
- Keep a record of all your medical invoices. Workers’ Compensation, once approved, will cover all your bills.
- Attend your doctors’ appointments even if you are worried about money. An insurance company could deny your claim by insinuating that you stopped attending treatment because you were not really suffering from an injury after all.
Of course, you can have all the documentation you need and still not get an approval on your Workers’ Compensation claim. In that case, consider making an appointment with a respected Workers’ Compensation lawyer. Working with a legal professional could help you reverse the initial decision and get you the benefits you deserve.
West Chester Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC Help Employees with Psychological Issues
If you have experienced mental workplace injuries with or without accompanying physical injuries, reach out to the West Chester Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC. Our legal team will protect your rights and fight to obtain the compensation for which you are entitled. Contact us online or call us at 610-594-1600 for a free consultation today. We are located in Exton, Pennsylvania, where we serve clients throughout Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.