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Is PTSD a Valid Basis for a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

PTSDWe’ve all heard of PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It first came into the lexicon in association with military personnel who had witnessed trauma that affected them psychologically or physically, but the term has now been extended to apply to anybody that has been exposed to a severe shock such as an accident or a terrorist attack. Just as injuries that can happen outside of work can also happen on the job, the same is true of PTSD. This means that if a traumatic event occurs in the workplace an employee requires treatment or is unable to function as a result, it is a valid basis for a workers’ compensation claim.

It is important to understand that there is a significant difference between PTSD and other mental injuries that might result from an unpleasant workplace. An employee who finds themselves experiencing anxiety because of a disruptive co-worker or depression because of losing their job is not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Hating your job is not the same as PTSD. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that is work related is very specifically a psychological injury that is caused by a psychological stimulus that represents an abnormal working condition: a person cannot successfully be approved for workers’ compensation benefits because their boss favors other employees over them but may be able to if they witnessed their boss physically attacking another employee.

PTSD can also be a result of having suffered a physical injury or illness on the job. In other words, an employee who suffered a horrific burn, or who fell off a scaffold and was badly injured, as a result, could conceivably suffer the symptoms associated with PTSD in the aftermath. These symptoms include:

  • Having flashbacks or nightmares in which they relive the accident
  • Becoming fixated on the accident
  • Withdrawing emotionally and becoming depressed or anxious as a result of the accident
  • Being in a constant state of anger or stress following the accident
  • Having difficulty sleeping after the accident

PTSD is generally treatable through medication, therapy, or a combination of the two. Workers’ compensation benefits can provide for these medical expenses, as well as for temporary disability if the condition prevents you from returning to work. For more information on filing a workers’ compensation claim for your PTSD diagnosis following a workplace event or injury, contact us today.