Can You Get workers’ compensation for Stress-Related Illnesses?

Workplace accidents are an everyday occurrence within the American workforce. Workers who are injured on the job have a legal right to be compensated for their injuries through their employers’ workers’ compensation coverage. For some accidents, such as slip and fall injuries, this is a fairly straightforward process. But what happens when injuries are intangible and hard to prove? If your workplace injury is the result of stress, can you access workers’ compensation coverage to be compensated for your injuries?

It is important that you have experienced legal representation while negotiating and litigating any workers’ compensation claim. Victims of workplace accidents have a legal right to be compensated by their employers’ workers’ compensation coverage. Trust the experienced attorneys at the Dolman Law Group to protect your legal rights after any workplace accident. Our lawyers have decades of experience in defending workers’ compensation claims in New Port Richey. We will ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for your workplace injury.

Workplace Illnesses Related to Stress

As worker knows, the workplace can be an incredibly stressful environment, and this can cause both physical and emotional injuries.

  • Repetitive physical movements can cause stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve damage, or chronic back pain.
  • Emotional injuries (such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and other similar conditions) can occur from incidents and accidents in the workplace. However: Florida law requires an accompanying physical injury in order to allow for workers compensation coverage for the mental or nervous injury.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder is common after an employee experiences a violent crime in the workplace. However, the accompanying physical injury law applies, and the employee must sustain a physical injury in the crime in order to receive workers’ compensation coverage for the post-traumatic stress disorder.

Areas of Dispute in Negotiating a workers’ compensation Claim

Workers’ compensation carriers are insurance companies. And like any insurance company, workers’ compensation carriers spend large sums of money training their adjusters to pay as little as possible on as few claims as possible. This can result in a claim being underpaid or denied altogether. Injured employees need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to protect their right to compensation.

Scope of Employment: workers’ compensation is a form of “no fault” coverage for the employer. An injured employee need not demonstrate that the employer’s negligence caused his or her injuries. The employee need only demonstrate that he or she was acting within the scope of employment when the injury occurred. Sometimes this is easy to prove, such as when an employee has clocked in, commenced work on the factory floor, and sustains an injury from the factory equipment. Other times it is more difficult to prove that an employee was in the scope of employment. What if the employee was running a personal errand during work hours? What if the employee was running a work errand after work hours, but in a personal vehicle?

Damages: Once an employee successfully proves that he or she was within the scope of employment when the injury occurs, the negotiations are far from over. The amount of compensation to which the employee is entitled (his or her “legal damages”) is another area in which the workers compensation adjuster will attempt to devalue the claim. This is particularly true when the employee’s injury is the result of workplace stress.

Stress can be difficult to prove, and even more difficult to place a monetary value upon. Intangible injuries (such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, and the like) allow an insurance adjuster room to argue the value of the claim. Stress injury victims must provide ample documentation from reputable doctors and mental health providers in order to demonstrate the nature and extent of their injuries. When that stress leads to a workers’ compensation claim, the victim must also prove the stress was sustained within the scope of his or her employment. This, too, is intangible and can be difficult to prove. It also gives a workers’ compensation carrier more opportunity to deny the claim altogether.

The Major Contributing Cause: Florida law has placed strict limitations upon an employee’s ability to recover workers’ compensation benefits for a “mental or nervous injury”. In addition to requiring an accompanying physical injury, the statute also requires that the physical injury must be and remain the major contributing cause of the mental or nervous condition. This is given a numerical requirement of at least fifty percent.

Alternatives to workers’ compensation Claims

Because the Florida statutes have severely limited an employee’s ability to recover workers’ compensation for mental or nervous injuries, many employees must consider other legal options for compensation. Employees can bring civil lawsuits against employers who negligently fail to provide a safe working environment. Premises liability law can make an employer legally responsible (“liable”) for injuries an employee sustains due to hazardous working conditions, slippery surfaces, violent crime which the employers failed to adequately prevent, and other dangerous circumstances. The employee must prove that the employer failed to act as a reasonable employer would have in preventing the dangerous condition.

An employee who is the victim of a crime in the workplace has separate legal rights under the Florida Constitution. The Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights protects the victim’s right to be advised of criminal proceedings against the defendant and make an oral or written Victim Impact Statement prior to sentencing. The victim can seek a criminal restitution order for his or her injuries, and also seek compensation through the Victim Compensation Program.

The Right Attorneys for Your workers’ compensation Claim

The Dolman Law Group protects workplace accident victims in and around the New Port Richey area. Call (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney today. We will explore all possible rights to a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim, or victims’ rights that you may have. Our experienced, aggressive attorneys have decades of experience in negotiating and litigating workers’ compensation claims. Our personalized service and professional representation will ensure that you are fairly compensated for your Florida workplace injury.

Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 853-6275