Psychological Injuries and Workers’ Compensation

According to a recent article in Monash Weekly, an Australian publication, emotional injuries are now being looked at in the workplace along with physical injuries. While the laws and work environment of Australia differ from that of North Carolina and Virginia, there are reasons to believe that work injuries and illnesses in industrialized democracies have some similarities.

Many physical injuries have objective tests to determine that an injury did occur and standard treatments. If a bone is broken, an X-Ray can normally show the break and orthopedic surgeons know how to fix the bone and how long it will take to heal. Psychological injuries are different. They’re especially more of a problem in workers’ compensation cases.

Generally, to recover workers’ compensation benefits for psychological injuries alone, the injured person has to show that the injuries occurred because of a “sudden shock or fright” far beyond the typical experiences encountered in that particular job. For instance a nurse who witnesses a killing might suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that would likely be compensable as that is far outside the nurse’s realm of what she is required to deal with in her job. If she were a police officer, however, witnessing that same killing would likely not be compensable, as coming across such extreme situations is something that is part of her job.

The other way to prove a psychological injury might be where the psychological component develops out of a compensable physical injury and is a natural component of that illness. For instance, depression that follows a severe scarring or disfigurement caused by a specific accident can be medically compensable if the depression relates directly to the scar or disfigurement. Some incidents may directly contribute to stress, such as when someone is assaulted at work. The cost of psychiatry bills may be eligible for payment in this scenario.

In these types of cases, expert witnesses such as psychiatrists may be the key to winning or losing. Our firm recently won benefits for a worker in such a case.

Talk to a Norfolk Workplace Injury Lawyer to Learn More

Workers suffer all types of injuries when they’re hurt in a workplace accident. Your injuries may be denied because your employer thinks that psychological injuries are not compensable and they may well be wrong. Norfolk workers’ compensation attorney Joe Miller at Joe Miller Law, Ltd., has been helping injured workers for over 25 years and has helped thousands of personal injury victims. You need a lawyer who will fight to get all the right medical bills paid and wages properly reimbursed and who will make sure you don’t have to return to work until you’re physically able to do the job. Learn more about what he can do for you by calling (888) 694-1671.