In this article, a Phoenix workers’ comp lawyer discusses how post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can occur in the workplace, and addresses the circumstances under which it may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
PTSD in the Workplace
Not all injuries that occur in the workplace break bones, shed blood, or leave visible bruises. There are many ways in which you can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder due to an incident that triggers emotional or mental trauma. Whether or not PTSD qualifies as a workplace injury for purposes of workers’ compensation varies from state to state. While claims can be filed for PTSD in some states, it is not permitted in others. You should consult a Phoenix workers’ comp lawyer for the laws in effect in your area.
Requirements For Qualification
The incident that caused your trauma must have taken place in the workplace during the normal performance of the your duties, and the symptoms must be sufficiently severe to prevent you from performing the job afterwards. Either a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist must present an official diagnosis that specifies that your symptoms are caused by workplace PTSD.
Workplace Causes of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs when you experiences something significantly disturbing that is outside the range of what might normally be expected at work. Police officers and firefighters put their lives at risk every day. However, a case of extraordinary violence in which an officer is shot or killed, or a fire that takes the life or horribly injures a fellow firefighter or other innocent victim could result in PTSD in those who experienced the event. In the case of a victim whose normal scenario does not include such events, as with a schoolteacher who was either involved in or witnessed a violent attack or shooting, PTSD is a likely consequence.
Common psychological and physiological symptoms include the following:
- Deep melancholia or depression, headaches
- Patient may be nervous, anxious, easily startled or irritated or develop ulcers
- Disturbed sleep, bad dreams
- Impaired memory or cognitive function
- Tiredness, feeling nauseated
Symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome do not necessarily occur immediately. It may be some time before they are felt or observed. This is referred to as “PTSD with delayed expression.” Since it is difficult to tie a PTSD claim to a workplace event long after the event occurred, medical or psychological treatment should be obtained by the patient as quickly as possible, and documentation begun.
Types of Workers’ Comp Claims for PTSD
- Physical-mental, in which the trauma causes physical injury that in turn triggers emotional or mental illness.
- Mental-mental, in which the witnessing of the incident induces mental or emotional symptoms. In states that recognize them, mental-mental claims must result from an incident that is outside the realm of what might normally be expected in the victim’s everyday job duties.
- Mental-physical, in which the mental trauma triggers an additional physical ailment such as anxiety or stress-induced hypertension.
Documentation And Verification
Insurers are notoriously suspicious of PTSD claims, so documentation and consistent treatment by recognized mental health specialists will be vital to your claim. You and your Phoenix workers’ comp Lawyer will need to demonstrate the circumstances, effects, and aftermath of the experience that you suffered, and clarify any history of previous claims. Insurance investigators will question you, your family, and the people you work with, and they will review your medical history to determine whether or not your condition could be caused by something unrelated to your job. If your case is approved for benefits, they will depend on the extent and duration of your impairment. Compensation may be granted for treatment costs and income lost due to time away from work.
Role Of Your Phoenix Workers’ Comp Lawyer
You should seek legal counsel as soon as may be if you believe that you are experiencing PTSD symptoms after a traumatic event at work. Your lawyer will review your situation, apprise you of the applicable laws, and help you to determine whether or not you should file a claim.
If you experienced a traumatizing incident and believe you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, find relief by seeking the help of a Phoenix workers’ comp lawyer right away. Call Schiffman Law Office, P.C. at (602) 235-0539 today.