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UPDATE: Can I Get Workers’ Compensation for PTSD and other Psychological Injuries?

 Posted on April 28,2022 in Workers' Compensation

Santa Clara County workers compensation attorney

Originally published: March 31, 2021 -- Updated: April 27, 2022

UPDATE: In cases where workers experience mental disorders, they may struggle to perform work and meet all the requirements of employment. Because of this, they may experience negative consequences, and they could even lose their jobs. However, California law allows workers to pursue workers’ compensation claims in these situations even after the termination of employment, as long as the circumstances that led to the injury occurred before the termination took place.

By receiving workers’ comp benefits, a person who struggles with PTSD or other mental health issues may be able to receive the necessary treatment, which would likely have been difficult following the loss of their job. To demonstrate that they qualify for workers’ comp, a person will need to show that their psychiatric injury was predominantly caused by the actual events of their employment, and at least one of the following must be true:

  • The injury was caused by “sudden and extraordinary” events.

  • The employee notified their employer about their psychiatric injury prior to being terminated.

  • The employee’s medical records show that they were receiving psychiatric treatment for their condition prior to being terminated.

  • There is evidence that the employee experienced either racial or sexual harassment while working for the employer.

  • The employee can provide evidence that their injury took place after being notified of their termination but before the date the termination took effect.

An employee will not qualify for workers’ compensation if their psychiatric injury was caused by an employer’s legal, good-faith personnel actions. That is, if a person was demoted or penalized based on their job performance, and the employer did not take any discriminatory actions or other illegal measures, the employee will not be eligible for workers’ comp benefits for mental health conditions that they suffered as a result of these actions.

If you have lost your job, and you are experiencing PTSD or other mental health issues that were caused by the work you performed prior to being terminated, Cramer + Martinez can help you understand whether you meet the requirements to receive workers’ compensation. To set up a free consultation with our San Benito County workers’ comp lawyers, contact us today at 408-848-1113.

When most people think of workers’ compensation claims, they picture a worker suffering from a broken leg or a back injury. While physical injuries do make up the majority of workers’ compensation claims in California, many workers also suffer from psychiatric injuries caused by traumatizing work incidents. Firefighters, police officers, and other first responders are at an especially high risk of psychological injuries. These workers are often witness to extremely upsetting situations involving gruesome injuries, death, and other tragedies. However, psychological injuries can occur to workers in any profession.

California Workers’ Compensation Law Regarding Emotional or Psychological Harm

Employers in California are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Employees who suffer an on-the-job injury are typically entitled to compensation for medical bills and a portion of their lost income. California workers’ compensation covers physical injuries as well as certain work-related emotional and psychological injuries.

According to California law, a worker is entitled to workers’ compensation for an emotional or psychological injury if:

  • A medical professional diagnoses the worker with a mental health condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression.

  • The worker requires medical treatment because of the mental health condition.

  • The worker has been employed for at least six months (except for cases involving sudden and unexpected traumatic events).

  • Employment is the “predominant” cause of the mental health condition.

Unique Issues Involved in Psychological Injury Workers’ Compensation Claims

Although California workers are entitled to workers’ compensation for mental health conditions caused by work, workers’ compensation claims involving psychological injuries are often subject to added hurdles. Many workers suffering from mental health conditions do not file a claim because they are hesitant to report and seek treatment for the condition. Although millions of Americans suffer from mental health disorders, there is still a substantial amount of stigma surrounding mental health conditions.

Workers’ compensation claims for psychological injuries are also frequently denied. The insurance company may claim that the worker’s mental health condition preexisted employment or that the worker’s personal life circumstances are the predominant cause of the condition. Nevertheless, workers who meet the criteria established by the California labor code are entitled to compensation by law. A workers’ compensation lawyer who knows the unique issues involved in psychological injury claims can help an injured worker fight for the workers’ compensation benefits he or she deserves.

Contact a Santa Clara Psychological Injury Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you have suffered negative psychological effects because of a work incident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. A knowledgeable Gilroy workers’ compensation attorney from Cramer & Martinez, LLP can help you understand if you qualify for workers’ compensation, file a claim on your behalf, appeal a workers’ compensation denial, and stand up for your rights. Call our office today at 408-848-1113 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.


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