Are non-physical injuries covered by workers’ compensation?

Have you heard the expression, “I’m taking a mental health day?” Even if not officially sanctioned by one’s employer, such sick days may go a long way toward protecting the longevity of one’s career.

Yet what happens when work-related emotional distress or anxiety becomes clinical? Can a worker get workers’ compensation benefits for such non-physical conditions?

As a law firm that focuses on workers’ compensation, we know that accidents in the workplace do occasionally happen. Most Pennsylvania employers are required to carry insurance to cover this scenario, and benefits are supposed to be provided without regard to whom might have been at fault for the accident.

Unfortunately, disputes can arise over the diagnosis and treatment of work injuries. This risk may be greatest for conditions that have non-clinical counterparts, such as emotional distress and anxiety. For example, an employer may dispute causation, asserting that such mental or emotional injuries are caused by factors in a worker’s personal life, rather than job-induced. An employer’s insurance policy may also dispute a proposed treatment plan, viewing  counseling or other therapies as unnecessary.

Typically, a worker should report any workplace accident immediately to his or her supervisor. Doing so may help document the details of the incident. Yet a diagnosis for a non-physical injury might not manifest immediately. We encourage our clients to consult with an attorney if they think they might have a compensable mental or emotional work injury, rather than waiting for the condition to become so severe that work becomes impossible.  Check out our firm’s website to learn more about workers’ compensation law in Pennsylvania.

Source: FindLaw, “Can I Get Workers’ Comp for Anxiety and Emotional Distress?” Ephrat Livni, March 21, 2016

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