Contrary to popular belief, physical injuries aren't the only way to qualify for workers compensation benefits. Workers comp is designed to cover a broad array of injuries that occur in the workplace, including those that aren't of a physical nature. The following goes in-depth about workplace-related depression and the issues that could affect your workers compensation claim.
Depression Stemming from Physical Injury
It's not unusual for a severe physical work injury and subsequent loss of employment to set the stage for chronic depression. Since depression can have significant effects that go beyond your ability to return to work, it's often treated as an industrial disability that's eligible for workers compensation. If you already have a workers comp claim for your physical injuries, the onset and diagnosis of depression may result in additional compensation, depending on the circumstances surrounding your depression.
It's important to notify your physician if you're dealing with depression stemming from a workplace injury. Once your physician is able to establish a relationship between your physical injury and your depression, you can seek compensation for it.
Depression Based on Mental Injury
Workers comp claims can also be based solely on mental injury caused by unusual stresses in the workplace. In most cases, these unusual stresses may come as a result of workplace bullying, sexual harassment, or other negative and highly stressful events occurring at work. Unusual stresses leading to depression can also occur due to a traumatizing experience that doesn't result in physical injury, such as being subject to an armed robbery.
If you've suffered any of the above, then chances are you'll be able to file a workers comp claim and seek compensation for your mental injuries.
Criteria for Claiming Workers Comp for Depression
Before you can pursue your workers comp claim in earnest, you'll need to make sure your claim fits into the following criteria:
- You are an employee of the company at the center of the workers comp claim.
- Your condition or the accident or injury leading to your condition occurred on-the-job.
- Your condition occurred as a result of workplace conditions.
- Your condition created an impairment or ailment that resulted in lost wages.
If your depression or anxiety wasn't caused by physical injury, you may need additional burden of proof before you're able to pursue your claims any further. This includes:
- A professional evaluation from a certified and experienced doctor or psychiatrist that attests to depression caused or aggravated by workplace conditions or events.
- State-mandated burden of proof (also known as legal causation) showing that your depression was the result of your workplace.
Keep in mind that the overall burden of proof for your particular workers comp claim can vary from state to state. It's a good idea to consult with your workers comp attorney to see if there's any additional proof needed to make your workers compensation claim successful.
Common Signs of Depression and Anxiety
While it's not uncommon to experience sadness while on the job, depression is a much different beast. The following symptoms can become so debilitating that they directly interfere with your work and even your relationships with coworkers:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or anxiety
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, or pessimism
- Increase in irritability or restlessness
- Noticeable decrease in energy and increase in fatigue
- Loss of interest in hobbies and other things you once enjoyed
- Loss of memory and/or concentration
- Changes in appetite and sleeping patterns
- Suicidal thoughts
If you're experiencing any of these issues, it's important to contact an experienced mental health specialist immediately. If these symptoms are work-related, you and your workers compensation attorney can take steps to pursue a workers comp claim and receive monetary compensation for your injuries. You can click here to investigate more on this issue.