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November 15, 2019

Workers’ Comp Benefits for Stress-Related Injuries

tired man about to take a pill with water

Work injuries are not uncommon in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that there were approximately 2.8 million workplace injuries or illnesses in the latest reporting year across the country. However, not all work injuries look the same. Many people think of traumatic injuries when they hear about an on-the-job incident. However, stress-related injuries are serious, and they can lead to long-term consequences for victims. 

What are stress-related injuries?

There are various situations and circumstances in which a person’s work environment can lead to mental health and stress-related injuries. This could include:

  • A serious vehicle accident while on the job
  • Being the victim of violence in the workplace, such as assault or robbery
  • Suffering from a traumatic injury, such as an amputation, traumatic brain injury, or a spinal cord injury
  • Being exposed to dangerous materials that affect your physical and mental health

While those are all incidents in which trauma can affect a worker’s mental health, there are also times when stress-related injuries occur in the absence of a traumatic event. This could include:

  • Jobs in which there is continual high stress such as firefighting, police work, social work, etc.
  • Instances in which there are continual deadlines that are hard to meet
  • Working in an environment with supervisors with unrealistic expectations
  • Suffering from continuous workplace discrimination or sexual harassment

Stress-related and mental health injuries often manifest themselves in physical symptoms as well. A person who is experiencing a stress-related injury may suffer from a range of symptoms, including the following:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression
  • Trouble sleeping/insomnia
  • Weight loss 
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Mood disorders/mood swings
  • Eating disorders
  • Heart and circulatory conditions 

Does workers’ compensation cover these injuries?

In many cases, medical conditions arising from mental health and stress-related incidents are covered by workers’ compensation. You will need to prove that your work was the primary cause of the condition. 

It is more difficult to receive compensation for stress-related injuries. The most complicated part of securing compensation for these injuries is proving they have actually occurred. As opposed to physical injuries, stress-related and mental health injuries may not have obvious indicators. Complicating matters further, Florida workers’ compensation laws only allow coverage of stress-related injuries if they are accompanied by some sort of traumatic incident. If you have suffered from a physical injury that clearly leads to your depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder, you should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for treatment as long as there is clear and convincing evidence linking the physical injury to the stress injury. 

However, under Florida law, “mental or nervous” injuries that arise only due to stress and excitement in the workplace are not going to be covered by workers’ compensation because there is no accompanying physical injury. For example, a police officer who witnesses repeated murders and heinous crimes and then subsequently develops a mental health illness would not be covered for treatment through workers’ compensation. 

Contact an attorney to help you through this

If you or a loved one are suffering from a work-related stress or mental health injury, please speak to a qualified Florida workers’ compensation attorney. An attorney who understands the Florida workers’ compensation system will be able to guide you through this process and let you know what benefits you may be entitled to.

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