When Can Workers’ Compensation Help Cover Mental Health Expenses?


Physical injuries are often easy to see and prove, but mental and emotional injuries can be invisible, hard to diagnose, and a challenge to prove. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t hurt you just as much as a physical injury can. Fortunately, workers’ compensation may cover expenses from anxiety, stress, and other less obvious illnesses that happen because of a job-related physical injury or adverse workplace conditions.

Eligibility Varies by State

Workers’ compensation insurance varies by state, and most business owners are required to purchase this coverage. Usually, you are not required to prove that your employer made a mistake or intentionally did anything wrong to get benefits. You must be an employee, however, and not an independent contractor. You must also prove that the illness or injury relates to work. Someone who works at a computer all day, for example, can often successfully claim compensation for a physical injury like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Mental Health Conditions May Qualify

In most states, workers’ compensation law covers all types of work-related conditions, including mental health concerns, stress, and emotional issues. To qualify, a condition must be severe enough that it interferes with your ability to work. A workplace experience may be so bad that it results in a mental health diagnosis even when there has been no associated physical injury, but this can be difficult to prove. For example, an emergency room nurse who often sees traumatic injuries might qualify under workers’ compensation law for compensation for a related mental health condition.

Proof Can Be a Challenge

With no visible wounds, x-rays, or test results, mental conditions like anxiety and stress can be challenging to prove. The law requires that you show proof that you have a condition and that it is work-related. When a specific traumatic event like a workplace shooting or fire is involved, proof is easier than when there is no single incident that causes a mental or emotional condition. However, good documentation and testimony from a mental health professional can provide the proof you need.

The Right Lawyer Is Essential

Workers’ compensation law can be complicated. Proving that you qualify for workers’ compensation may involve a discovery process, legal research, and reliance on recent case law precedent. If you don’t have legal training, it’s very difficult to create a compelling case and provide the necessary evidence without help. A good workers’ compensation attorney has experience with state requirements and local officials, so they can help you get compensation. The right lawyer can overcome assertions that you didn’t suffer an injury or that a condition is not work-related.

With help from a competent attorney, you can prove that your mental health expenses are related to workplace conditions or a work-related incident and get compensation. The process of getting what you deserve is complex, however, and going it alone is a mistake that could result in a denied claim.

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