Decatur Psychological Injury Lawyer
Does Georgia Workers’ Compensation Recognize Stress and Mental Injuries?
Psychological injuries can be every bit as painful and debilitating as physical injuries, but they can be harder to observe and identify, and much harder to get compensated through workers’ compensation when the injury occurred on the job. Psychological injuries are compensable under Georgia workers’ compensation law, but only in limited circumstances. See below to learn more about when work-related psychological injuries are compensable and when they aren’t, and talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to make sure you are getting benefits when you are supposed to. The Decatur psychological injury lawyers at O’Connell Law Firm are ready to help you.
What Counts as a Psychological Injury?
Just about everybody experiences stress in their daily lives, including at work. While everybody experiences stress differently, some jobs are objectively more stressful than others. Regardless, “stress” per se is not a psychological injury that one can be compensated for as a work injury. However, there are several psychiatric disorders recognized by the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that could be work-related. These include, for example:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Adjustment disorders
If disorders like these are caused or created at work, they could possibly be compensable with workers’ comp benefits. In Georgia, however, there must also be a physical injury accompanying the mental one. A mental disability brought on by a compensable accident in which the employee was physically injured could feasibly be compensated by worker’s compensation. The mental injury need not be an outgrowth of the physical injury either. So long as there was a work accident in which a physical injury occurred, the mental injury could be compensable if the physical injury contributes to the continuation of trauma.
Psychological Versus Physical Injuries in Georgia
Mental injuries might happen in tandem with physical injuries or on their own. In the field of workers’ compensation law, psychological injuries are classified as either physical-mental, mental-physical, or mental-mental.
A person who suffers a severe or catastrophic physical injury might incur psychological injuries as well. Being injured in an explosion or fire, losing a limb, or getting crushed by equipment, for example, can bring on real psychological injuries such as anxiety or PTSD, due to the horrific nature of the accident or injury. Additionally, suffering a career-ending injury in any work accident could naturally lead to depression, a diagnosable and treatable psychological injury. These types of psychological injuries should be compensable under Georgia workers’ compensation. The burden will be on the employee to prove the psychological condition and its connection to a physical workplace injury; an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney can help document this injury and get it accepted by the Board of Workers’ Compensation.
For some workers, the psychological aspects of the job create mental injuries that in turn manifest as physical disability. A good example is to look at first responders such as police officers and firefighters. Their jobs include constant exposure to stressful environments and emergency responses, adrenaline rushes, working long and odd hours including transferring between day and night shifts, and being on-call and forced to respond at all hours. These features of the job lead to stress and bad eating habits that can result in physical disabilities such as hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.
These physical conditions should be compensable under workers’ compensation when they are brought about by the mental/psychological hardships of the job. As with other occupational diseases, it can be difficult for employees to prove their disability is work-related, especially if their claim is being fought by the employer or insurance carrier. The Decatur workers’ compensation attorneys at the O’Connell Law Firm can help ensure you are getting paid the right amount for your claim.
It’s possible to incur a psychological injury without being physically injured personally. For instance, an employee who is witness to a horrific accident, injury or catastrophe at work could suffer from anxiety disorders or PTSD that keep the employee from returning to work, even if the employee was not personally harmed in the accident. Unfortunately, this type of injury is not compensable under Georgia workers’ compensation. Here in Georgia, workers’ comp is not available absent a physical injury to the employee.
Call for Answers to Your Questions About Psychological Injuries and Georgia Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Decatur
When you are out of work for a disability, whether it is physical or psychological, it’s essential that you get the right treatment for your injury and the right amount of compensation for the entire period applicable to the disability. The Decatur workers’ compensation lawyers at the O’Connell Law Firm are happy to answer your questions, look at your case, and make sure you are getting the right level of benefits that you are entitled to. Call our office at 404-410-0034 for a free consultation regarding your Georgia workers’ compensation needs.