In the aftermath of a debilitating on-the-job injury, you may be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits. Although workers' comp mainly covers employees who've suffered physical injuries, it may also cover those who are suffering from work-related anxiety and depression. Learn about how you could qualify for workers' comp coverage if you're currently suffering anxiety or depression caused by work-related injuries or stresses.
Recognizing the Signs of Anxiety and Depression
Clinical depression is a debilitating illness that affects over 18 million Americans over the age of 18, especially those who are in their prime working years. Workplace depression can also prove costly in terms of lost productivity and treatment costs, leading to over $51 billion in absenteeism, according to Mental Health America.
If you're suffering from depression or anxiety, then you may have experienced some of the following symptoms:
- Increased fatigue and overall decrease in energy
- Increased irritability and feelings of restlessness
- Reduced or lost interest in your usual hobbies
- Memory loss
- Persistent loss of concentration
- Extreme changes in sleeping patterns and appetite
- Thoughts or feelings of suicide or self-harm
If you are experiencing these symptoms in the workplace or as a result of a work-related injury, you should consult with a trained mental health expert as soon as possible. Talking with a specialist could be part of your first steps towards receiving workers' compensation benefits.
Understanding the Claims Criteria
In order to pursue a worker's compensation claim for workplace-related depression or anxiety, you'll have to meet certain criteria for a valid claim. In addition to being an employee of the company you're filing your claim against (as opposed to being an independent contractor), the conditions or events leading up to your workplace depression must:
- Be the result of the company's workplace conditions
- Result in an impairment that causes lost wages and productivity
- Occur while you're on the job
If your work-related depression or anxiety isn't the result of a physical injury, then additional proof may be required before your workers' compensation claim can be successfully processed. For instance, you may need a professional evaluation from a certified mental health physician that proves your depression or anxiety is the result of work-related issues.
In addition, your state may have its own burden of proof you'll need to meet in order to successfully prove your workers' comp claim. This burden of proof may not be the same in every state, so it's important to talk to your workers' compensation attorney when establishing your claim.
Physical vs. Mental Injury
Workplace depression or anxiety can be the result of a physical work injury or a mental injury caused by unusual stressors within the workplace. It's not uncommon for severe depression to set in after suffering a severe physical injury that not only results in a loss of employment, but also prevents you from getting back to work. If you already have a workers' comp claim for physical injury, you may receive additional compensation for any work-related depression you're experiencing.
Depression or anxiety experienced in the workplace can also stem from mental rather than physical factors. For instance, working in a hostile workplace could eventually lead to anxiety or depression. Common hostile actions that could produce heightened anxiety include workplace bullying and sexual harassment. Traumatic incidents experienced at work can also trigger depressive episodes. For example, your depression could be triggered in the aftermath of an armed robbery or workplace shooting.
Whether your depression or anxiety was caused by a physical or mental injury, work-related depression or anxiety isn't something that should be taken lightly. It's important to take the steps necessary to pursue your workers' compensation claim. To begin, contact resources like Gilbert, Blaszcyk & Milburn LLP.