Stressful Work Environments May Warrant Workers’ Comp Benefits

People who suffer from emotional and psychological trauma because of their work environment may be able to receive workers’ compensation.

When people receive workers' compensation benefits for an on-the-job accident in Illinois or a work-related medical condition, it generally stems from a physical injury. Back injuries, broken bones, limb amputations and nerve damage are all injuries that are commonly seen on a workers' compensation claim. However, workers who suffer from emotional or psychological trauma as a result of working conditions may also be eligible for workers' compensation, depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the case.

Just as physical injuries can change a person's life significantly, so too can mental injuries. Psychological damage can make it difficult for a person to return to work and earn a living. Some people may be forced to change occupations or retire from the workforce completely due to the severity of their condition.

Evaluating Stress in the Workplace

People who suffer from excessive stress in the workplace may be able to file for workers' compensation benefits, according to the American Bar Association. Unlike physical injuries or medical conditions, however, stress is subjective and can be hard to measure on a scientific scale. While an occupation may be extremely stressful for one person, another person may be able to work in the same position without experiencing any emotional issues. Therefore, people who seek workers' compensation benefits for stress at work that has ultimately caused them harm must prove just that.

Some occupations come with a certain level of stress, such as emergency room workers or law enforcement officers. It is when this occupational stress begins to interfere with a person's ability to carry out their daily tasks that the stress can become overwhelming. In some cases, emotional and psychological trauma can lead to actual physical ailments and even permanent damage.

In other industries, certain injuries can have a lasting psychological impact in addition to the physical symptoms. Workers who are injured on the job with a neck, back or other serious injury, for example, are often displaced from work for an extended period of time. The stress associated with being out of work due to an injury can cause related issues including anxiety and depression. Also, pain stemming from a traumatic injury can cause or result in narcotic pain medication dependency issues that may result in mental health disorders and require mental health care as a direct result of the work injury.

Case in Point

According to Business Insurance, a second-grade teacher was awarded workers' compensation for having to instruct a class of poorly behaved students. Due to the highly stressful teaching environment, the Pennsylvania teacher was moved to another school, which she claims to have a quieter atmosphere. Before she was transferred, however, the woman suffered from headaches, nausea, dizziness, vocal cord damage and heart palpitations when teaching the stressful class. Furthermore, the teacher was already diagnosed with a heart murmur and lupus, both conditions of which were seriously aggravated because of the emotional trauma. After the woman filed a workers' compensation claim and the case was heard by the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Appeal Board, officials awarded the teacher limited compensation benefits for her emotional distress.

Partnering With an Attorney

When filing a workers' compensation claim, it is crucial to fill out all of the documents properly the first time. There are also critical time frames that people must keep in mind when filing their claims. An attorney in Illinois who has thorough knowledge of the state's workers' compensation laws may be extremely helpful in your case. A lawyer may be able to answer your questions regarding workers' compensation and walk you through the process of filing a claim.

Keywords: workers' compensation, mental, physical, job, injury