Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious and potentially debilitating mental health condition that can affect every aspect of a person’s life. Often, the disorder develops in individuals who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a serious accident or violent assault. If PTSD is caused by a traumatic event that occurred at work, the condition may be covered by the employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance plan.
Workers in certain occupations may be at an increased risk for developing PTSD, including public safety workers. Firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians work in high-stress environments and are often the first on location at horrific scenes. However, workers in any industry can develop mental stress injuries related to their job. Other causes of PTSD compensation claims involve situations when the death or serious injury to a worker is witnessed by co-workers.
For many years, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Board did not recognize post-traumatic stress disorder as a compensable work-related injury. Fortunately, recent victories have made it possible for workers to receive benefits after suffering a traumatic event while on the job. Generally, the standard is that the traumatic event must be “abnormal,” or in other words, something that would not be encountered every day at work. Commonplace work scenarios that could be regarded as highly stressful and anxiety inducing will not meet the standard required for a compensable mental health condition.
Because of the complexities of post-traumatic stress disorder, Workers’ Compensation claims, and the burden of proof required by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Board in these cases, it is highly advisable to seek counsel from an experienced Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer. If you think you have PTSD, do not hesitate to see a mental health professional and notify your employer. Waiting can intensify symptoms, make treatment more difficult, and jeopardize your Workers’ Compensation claim.
Reactions to trauma can vary widely. Some victims of a traumatic event may suffer mild anxiety while others can experience a dramatic change in personality. Common symptoms of PTSD include:
Although PTSD is a mental health condition, it can manifest itself in physical symptoms as well including:
Claims can be made for PTSD alone, or in conjunction with physical injuries suffered in the traumatic event. Very often, a worker will sustain injuries in a severe accident and develop lasting symptoms of PTSD after having recovered from the physical injuries. In this case, the worker may have a claim for compensation for both the physical injuries and the PTSD. On the other hand, workers who witness a horrific accident or event may not have physical injuries, but rather are debilitated by emotional scars. These workers would file a compensation claim only for PTSD.
Regardless of the severity of PTSD, a successful claim will allow you to receive some benefits. If your PTSD is severe, you are eligible for more benefits because the impact on your health is more severe. If you suspect you are suffering from work-related PTSD it is crucial that you report any and all symptoms, mental or physical, to your doctor.
Do not delay in talking to your doctor and your employer if you think you have post-traumatic stress disorder due to a work-related event. You could lose your right to benefits if you do not report your PTSD within the prescribed deadlines. Through Workers’ Compensation, you may be able to get the medical treatment and leave from your job that you need to recover from the trauma that caused your PTSD. Benefits awarded in a successful Workers’ Compensation claim may include:
In Pennsylvania, Workers’ Compensation claims for PTSD are complex and require skilled and experienced representation. The Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers of Gross & Kenny, LLP, have the knowledge and experience that you need on your side when you file a claim. Call 267-589-0090 or 215-512-1500 now to schedule a free consultation, or contact us online. Our offices are located in Center City Philadelphia serving clients throughout Pennsylvania.