Mental Injuries are very serious, even if some people believe that they are made up. Medical professionals and courts all across the country and even right here in Pennsylvania, however, have recognized that mental injuries as a result of stress are very real and that they deserve the same respect and workers’ compensation as physical injuries.
If you have suffered a mental stress injury and are considering filing a worker’s compensation claim, then a workers’ compensation lawyer can be an incredible asset. Our compassionate and experienced workers’ compensation attorneys here in Delaware County Pennsylvania can help you pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits for emotional, mental, or psychiatric injuries. Even if your Workers’ Compensation insurance claim has been accepted and you are receiving benefits, we will review your case for free to make sure your benefits are maximized at no cost to you. Simply call us at 610.892.9300.
Types of Mental Stress Injuries
Mental stress is a growing problem for many workers, and has been on the rise in the past several years. As medicine and medical professional devote more time and research towards understanding the relationships between mental stressors and physical ailments the medical profession is beginning to see a correlation between the two.
The following are examples of mental stress injuries:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Stress-related illness
Stress related health claims are on the rise not just here in Delaware county Pa., but also throughout the country. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health a projected estimate places the cost of stress-related health claims nationwide somewhere in the range of $150 billion dollars per year.
Under Pennsylvania Law, there are three different types of mental injury cases
- Physical/mental – which is when a physical stimulus causes a mental injury
- Mental/physical – when a mental or emotional experience causes a physical consequence
- Pure mental mental – when a mental or emotional stimulus causes purely emotional consequences
The first category is the one that is typically the most familiar to workers, employers, and laypersons. This category of mental injury is seen in other accident types such as in car accidents. This type of injury manifests itself after a physical injury, such that an example would be if a worker was severely injured by a piece of machinery and subsequently they became overly anxious every time they saw the machine to a degree that they could not work. In this injury type the worker or the person who has been injured only needs to establish that his or her injuries arose in the course and scope of their employment. Their burden is to establish these facts by a preponderance of the evidence.
The second category for injury types is the kind that is part of the growing trend in the United States. As medicine begins to better understand the effects of stress on the body they are beginning to draw correlations between mental injuries and physical manifestations. Such as if a worker is continually stressed by the rigors of their job, they may develop cardiovascular complications that would not have manifested themselves in the absence of the work stress. As with a physical injury that subsequently manifests itself as a mental ailment, a worker who has been subjected to significant mental strain and has subsequently developed a mental injury will need only prove that their injury arose in the course of scope of their employment. Again, as with a physical injury resulting in a subsequent mental injury a worker will need to demonstrate their injury only by a preponderance of the evidence.
Finally, the third category is also part of the growing understanding of mental health and injuries. Examples of this injury type include anxiety as a result of work stressors. This injury type may not manifest itself physically such as through cardiovascular complications, however, its affects cannot be discredited. While this case is recognized as an injury type, to prove this injury the worker or claimant will have a higher burden of proof. A Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation claimant alleging a psychic injury categorized as a “mental/mental” claim bears an additional burden of proving he was “exposed to abnormal working conditions and that his psychological problems are not a subjective reaction to normal working conditions.” Babich v. WCAB (CPA Dept. of Corrections), 922 A.2d 57 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2007). In order for a claimant to recover they will need to demonstrate that their mental injury was a result of abnormal working conditions. This category of mental injury is often the most difficult to prove.
All of these mental injury case types are highly fact specific scenarios. Any worker who is considering filing such claim should understand that it will require them to produce evidence of their mental injury. It is particularly difficult to prove the third category of mental stressors resulting in mental injuries because of the elevated burden of proof. However, these cases have been supported by evidence of a mental disability which is directly caused by a violation of law, such a sex, age, race, or disability.
What Benefits can I Receive from a Mental Stress Injury?
When a mental injury has developed to a point that you are suffering from decreased productivity or are wholly unable to work, then you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries. Under Pennsylvania Workers Compensation laws a worker may be entitled to:
- Wage loss benefits for a total disability
- Wage loss benefits for partial disability
- Specific loss benefits for permanent loss of use of certain parts of the body by amputation or loss of function
- Disfigurement benefits for a permanent scar on the head, neck, or face
- Death benefits to a workers’ surviving spouse or dependents
- Reasonable and necessary medical expenses, even if the injuries do not result in any lost time from work.
These benefits are not meant to over-compensate an injured worker, but rather, are meant to help the injured worker during their recovery and help them maintain their lifestyle and meet their financial obligations, as well as help them recover. However, there is a limit to the amount of money that can be paid to a worker under the workers’ compensation system. Total disability benefits are limited to 66 2/3% of your weekly salary and are not to exceed $978. However, medical benefits are not limited, in an effort to help workers return to their previous condition.
Suffering from a Mental Stress Injury? Call Our Delaware County Workers’ Comp Lawyers
If you have suffered a mental injury and now are unable to work, contact one of our experienced and compassionate attorneys today. The workers’ compensation process can be difficult and particularly when there is a mental injury involved. Our attorneys serve the needs of injured workers and clients in Delaware County, Berks, Bucks, Chester, and Montgomery counties. Even if your Workers’ Compensation insurance claim has been accepted and you are receiving benefits, we will review your case for free to make sure your benefits are maximized at no cost to you. Simply call us at 610.892.9300.