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Can I Collect Workers’ Compensation for being Stressed Out?

Stress is part of life. We get stressed at home, in traffic, in long lines while shopping and at work, but can you base a workers’ compensation claim on undue or cumulative stress in California? It’s entirely possible. These types of claims aren’t typical workers’ compensation claims though. We can’t put them on a flash box and point to an MRI that shows stress in your brain. That’s because nearly all stress-related claims are psychiatric in nature.

Stress and California Workers’ Compensation
Everybody experiences some level of stress at work, and everybody deals with stress differently. Sometimes stress even interferes with our ability to reason. That can result in emotional breakdowns that might even be accompanied by physical symptoms. Symptoms can be temporary but protracted, or even permanent. In either case, a work-related stress claim might be compensable under California workers’ compensation laws.

Frequent Denials
There’s no question that California workers’ compensation laws recognize psychiatric conditions that have developed on the job. What comes to issue is that they’re so difficult to prove. That’s the reason why workers compensation claims involving psychiatric injuries are frequently denied. Employees who want to press forward with stress-related claims need to retain a compassionate and effective workers’ compensation lawyer to pursue their claims for these types of injuries. We want to hear your side of the story. Our objective is to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits that you need to help you manage or overcome your stress-related claim.

Proving Work-Related Psychiatric Injuries
The California Labor Code section 3208.3 details what a claimant must prove in order to receive compensation for work-related psychiatric injuries involving stress. The burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence. What that means is that the “actual events of employment were predominant as to all causes combined of the psychiatric injury.” As per section 3208.3, here’s what a stress-related workers’ compensation claimant must show for purposes of qualifying for benefits:

  • He or she must have a six month minimum work history with the employer.
  • The psychiatric condition must be diagnosed “using the criteria of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition-Revised or the terminology and diagnostic criteria of other psychiatric diagnostic manuals approved and accepted nationally by practitioners in the field of psychiatric medicine.”
  • The events occurring during employment are the predominant cause of the employee’s psychiatric condition.
  • Compensation will not be paid by an employer “for a psychiatric condition if the injury was caused by a lawful, nondiscriminatory, good faith personnel action.”
  • A psychiatric condition that arises through adjudication of the claim process is not compensable.
  • A stress or psychiatric claim that was filed after an employee’s termination or notice of termination is not compensable unless the employer had knowledge of the claimant’s injury or medical records of psychiatric treatment were in existence prior to the termination or notice thereof.

What Psychiatric Claims Does California Workers’ Law Recognize?
Workers’ compensation law in California recognizes two types of psychiatric claims. First, it recognizes mental-physical claims that involve physical symptoms like pain or diminished functional capacity that were caused by an injury suffered at work. Next, California recognizes mental-mental injuries suffered by witnessing or being the victim of traumatic or violent workplace events like criminal acts, violence, physical or sexual intimidation or threats.

Unless your claim involves the element of violence, the opposing insurance company may scrutinize everything about your personal life. If you persist in your wish to bring such a claim, you’ll want a compassionate and effective Sacramento workers’ compensation advocating for you.

Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorney, Alice A. Strömbom, focuses exclusively on Workers’ Compensation Law and the rights of injured workers. She is very familiar with the tactics insurance companies use to avoid providing the medical treatment and disability benefits injured workers deserve, and has a recognized track record in combating such issues.

Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation.