July 2, 2020

Psychological and Stress-Related Injuries in Workers’ Compensation

mental health displayed on laptop

Most people know that workers’ compensation covers physical injuries, but don’t always know that claims can include psychological conditions. For example, a nurse who is assaulted and threatened by a distressed patient may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in addition to the physical injuries sustained from the assault. 

Maryland law classifies mental/psychological claims into three categories which are explained below with examples:

Physical-Mental Claims

Work-related physical injury that causes a psychological condition. 

  • Correctional officer exposed to blood during an altercation with an HIV positive inmate develops anxiety out of fear of contracting HIV
  • Construction worker suffers from depression as a result of a debilitating back injury requiring multiple surgeries

Mental-Physical Claims

Mental/emotional injury that causes a physical injury. 

  • Convenience store cashier endures a heart attack after being robbed at gunpoint

Mental-Mental Claims

A mental stressor that causes a psychological condition.

  • EMT develops PTSD after witnessing an extraordinarily graphic accident
  • Teacher witnesses school shooting 

Psychological injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression can all have a severe impact on your health and ability to work. Some common psychological symptoms are flashbacks, nightmares, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, social isolation, emotional detachment, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, rapid heart rate, chest pain, and fear.  

Insurance companies tend to scrutinize psychological claims more closely, so it is important to have the evidence needed to prove your case. In order to establish a claim for a psychological condition, an injured worker must provide documentation from a medical provider that diagnoses the condition, and causally relates it to the work incident or exposure. 

If you are suffering from a psychological condition as a result of a work injury or exposure, you may be entitled to medical benefits and compensation. Please contact our experienced workers’ compensation team for a free consultation.