Are Mental Health Claims Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?
Usually when we think about a work-related injury, we picture slipping and falling and suffering a broken bone, or picking up something heavy and straining our knee or back. But we hardly ever think about suffering a mental injury on the job. This may be because mental injuries are harder to diagnose or prove, or because there are still significant stigmas surrounding mental health.
However, New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws apply equally to physical injuries and mental health injuries. A worker who suffers from a mental health issue or disease that develops as a result of his or her job may be entitled to compensation for the costs of mental health (and physical health) treatment and for time missed from work during his or her recovery.
What Qualifies as a Mental Health Injury?
A mental health injury that is compensable under workers’ compensation includes any mental condition that precludes an employee from being able to perform his or her job duties. Although many of us get stressed and/or anxious at work, these feelings rarely rise to the level of disabling us from continuing to do our jobs on a day-to-day basis. But some employees may experience a particularly difficult work experience that can lead to a mental health diagnosis that makes it difficult for the worker to continue performing his or her job duties. A mental health injury can occur on the job when a worker is forced to work long hours over an extended or indefinite period of time, if a worker is subjected to a high-stress work environment for an extended time, or if a worker is subjected to a traumatic incident at work such as being sexually harassed or physically assaulted.
How to Establish a Mental Health Injury as Work-Related
An employee seeking workers’ compensation benefits bears the burden to show that his or her injury occurred in the course and scope of his or her employment, and not from some external cause. As a result, it can be difficult to show that a mental health injury is work-related and not due to some other issue in one’s personal life or due to a hereditary factor. If a mental health injury can be traced back to a particular incident (for example, you were physically assaulted at work), it can be easier to link a mental health injury to your job. But when mental health injuries arise over time due to conditions at work, you will likely need to rely on the expert testimony of your treating mental health professionals and other mental health experts to establish that the cause of your mental health issues is your work environment. You should also consider keeping a journal or record of how issues at work have been impacting your mental health.
How an Attorney Can Help You with a Mental Health Injury Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you believe you have a workers’ compensation claim for a mental health injury, an attorney can help you with issues that can arise in pursuing your claim, such as:
- Initial denial or rejection of your claim
- Your employer’s (or its workers’ compensation insurer’s) decision to not pay or discontinue payment of certain medical expenses
- Determinations of temporary and/or permanent, and partial or total disability
- Calculations of your average weekly wage for disability benefits
- Low settlement officers
- Termination from employment due to your mental health injury or for filing a workers’ compensation claim
Contact a Hazlet Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Workplace Injury Case in New Jersey
Were you or a loved one injured due to a workplace accident in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Drazin and Warshaw, P.C. represent clients injured in Hazlet, Roosevelt, Upper Freehold, Fair Haven and throughout Monmouth County, Ocean County and Middlesex County, New Jersey. Call (732) 576-8860 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 25 Reckless Place, Red Bank, NJ 07701 as well as offices in Hazlet and Brick.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.