Workers are more than just warm bodies. Humans can be complex beings that can suffer both physically and mentally in work-related trauma. Do workers have a right to claim psychiatric trauma in workers’ compensation cases? Yes. Psychiatric trauma can be debilitating and affect the workers’ ability to carry out their normal work functions.
Psychiatric injuries can be covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act if the work-related harm was tied to a specific time, place, and event that caused the trauma.
What situations could cause psychiatric trauma at work?
A traumatic, unusual, or catastrophic incident at work can cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, etc. Psychiatric trauma is not referring to mental illness that is triggered by normal work conditions. Here are three hypothetical situations:
- John is a factory worker. Last week he witnessed his co-worker tragically falling into a piece of machinery that he was repairing. John’s co-worker died in this workplace accident and ever since witnessing this tragic event, John has been exhibiting signs of depression.
- Judy works in a large corporate office. Last month, her co-worker was tragically shot and killed when her ex-husband came to the office. Judy witnessed this horrific event and is now showing signs of PTSD.
- Jim was driving a company vehicle when he and his co-worker were involved in a motor vehicle accident. Unfortunately, Jim’s co-worker passed away in the crash. Jim feels guilty because he was driving and he can’t sleep or eat normally due to stress and anxiety.
As one can see, these are not cases of mental illness that arose from normal work conditions. Psychiatric trauma is caused by a tragic and disturbing event that took place while at work.
What types of compensation are available under workers’ compensation?
Just like other physical injuries, a valid workers’ compensation claim could result in the following types of compensation for mental issues:
- Medical/psychiatric expenses
- Lost wages
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Vocational rehabilitation or retraining
Workers’ compensation is designed to help employees recover and recuperate after an injury, both physically and mentally.
Know your rights under workers’ comp
To prove eligibility for compensation, psychiatric injuries must be proven to be work-related. Navigating the claims process for workers’ compensation can be difficult without experienced guidance. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.