Why Psychological Disabilities Are Valid Considerations in Workers’ Compensation Law
The term ‘work injury’ is generally associated with physical injuries sustained by workers on the job. However, California is one of the few states that have adopted a much broader definition of the term – which includes psychological disabilities as well.
What is a Psychological Disability?
A psychological disability – also referred to as a psychiatric injury – is a mental disorder which is caused as a result of working conditions and requires medical treatment. Psychological disabilities can be caused by a number of factors including:
- Excessive workload, unreasonably short deadlines, and next-to-impossible targets
- Harassment and abuse in the workplace
- Witnessing or being exposed to a violent act in the workplace
How Psychological Disabilities Can Affect Workers
Research shows that mental health problems can take a toll on a worker’s performance, productivity, and their overall health and wellbeing. If not treated in a timely manner, mental disorders can reduce a worker’s cognitive performance by as much as 35%.
The drastic drop in productivity and performance can make it harder for the worker to compete with their coworkers and stay on top of the tasks assigned to them.
What Are The Criteria to be Met For a Psychiatric Injury Claim?
- You must have been employed at your current workplace for a period of at least six months. It does not necessarily have to be six months of continuous employment. Even short stints of employment over a period of time are applicable – as long as they add up to six months and under the same employer.
- The event of employment or adverse working condition in question must have been the predominant cause (at least 51%) of your mental health problem.
- The condition you are suffering from must be listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – IV).
It should be noted that the predominant cause provision (51% rule) listed above does not apply to psychological disabilities caused as a result of a violent event or act at the workplace. In such cases, the worker only needs to prove that the violent act or event in question was one of the contributing factors (35% to 40%) to their mental health problem.
Importance of Choosing The Right Attorney to Handle Psychological Disability Claims
The eligibility criteria for a psychiatric injury claim are much stricter compared to that of a physical injury claim. Your employer will argue that the actions that caused your psychiatric injury were in fact good faith personnel actions and were not abusive or discriminatory in nature.
The insurance company, on the other hand, will dig into your personal life and try to find any information that can be used to counter or disprove your psychological disabilities claim. A skilled and experienced California workers’ compensation attorney can take on the insurance company’s legal team, prove that your psychiatric injury was caused as a result of adverse working conditions, and make sure your claim meets all the aforementioned criteria.
Looking to File a Claim for Psychological Disabilities? We Can Help You!
With his unmatched legal knowledge, experience, and resources, attorney Thomas F. Martin can provide you with high-quality, passionate legal representation and fight hard to recover the compensation you deserve. To explore your legal options, call us today at 714-547-5025 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.