Emotional and Stress-Related Injuries
Although the traditional understanding of workers’ compensation claims most often stem from physical injuries that occur while on the job, such as suffering a high fall without being provided proper safety equipment or being hurt by a piece of machinery that malfunctions unexpectedly, this is not the sole category of workplace incidents covered by the law that can be eligible for compensation.
In fact, employees who endure mental and emotional-related issues that result in permanently debilitating injuries while on the job are also eligible for workers’ compensation, although it may be more difficult to prove than a physical injury. The Massachusetts General Laws state clearly that mental and emotional injuries sustained at work are indeed a part of protections for all workers:
“Personal injuries shall include mental or emotional disabilities only where the predominant contributing cause of such disability is an event or series of events occurring within any employment.” – MA General Laws, Chapter 152, Section 1
What this means is that an employer must prove that their mental or emotional injury was sustained solely as a result of abnormal and unacceptable activity at their place of employment. Further requirements indicate that the injury must have been sustained not as a normal, expected part of the job’s working conditions.
For example, a rock quarry worker would not be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits after claiming he or she developed a stress-related anxiety disorder following an exposure to large machinery, explosions or tall heights – as all of those conditions are expected and normal conditions of working in or near a rock quarry. Another important factor in collecting a stress-related claim is that the condition you are claiming for must not be pre-existing, but rather caused by working at your job.
For example, an office receptionist would have a pretty good case to collect workers’ compensation benefits if he developed severe a stress-related anxiety disorder because his supervisor required him to get her favorite coffee on her desk before a certain time or else he would be fired. Such a condition is not an expected or normal part of a receptionist’s job responsibilities, and the presence of such a condition could be tangibly traced that workplace environment as being the sole factor in causing permanent mental harm.Proving Your Case
As with any workers’ compensation claim, the burden of proof to show that you have been irreparably harmed due to a workplace incident, or series of incidents, is on the person making the claim. You must be able to demonstrate through evidence that you suffered an injury – physically or mentally – as a result of performing the duties of your job, and that these injuries have had a debilitating effect on your daily life.
Step one in proving your case is to report the incident or series of incidents through an attorney or through your human resources office to get the claims process initiated. You will likely face pressure from your employee not to follow through, or to find some other course of mediation, as workers’ compensation is obviously a cost that an employer would probably rather not pay.
You can increase your chances of proving a stress-related workers’ compensation claim by keeping a journal or other personal logging of any and all activities or events that led you to develop stress. By showing a pattern of stressful activities, cataloguing how they were excessive or out of the norm for what your position originally called for and dating them, you may be able to present a solid case for compensation.Contact Us for Help Today
No matter what the injury is, collaborating with an experienced personal injury attorney is the most assured way to be taken seriously by your employer and to have the best chance at collecting a compensation claim. An attorney will be aware of all steps required to ensure a claim is filed properly and can be there to advocate on your behalf if your claim is called into question, as it most likely will be.
At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 40 years of experience advocating on behalf of our clients and fighting for their right to receive workers’ compensation for a wide range of injuries – both physical and mental in nature.
Stress is an unfortunate certainty in modern life, and is a normal part of many jobs. But when stress becomes excessive to the point of causing harm, you may wish to file a claim for compensation bases on those undue and damaging conditions. An experienced attorney at Altman & Altman will ensure you have the best chance at collecting those benefits.
Call us today for a free consultation at 617.492.3000 or toll-free at 800.481.6199. We are available 24/7.