According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 40 percent of workers reported that their job was very or extremely stressful. While in most cases stress related work is expected, it can have a significant physical impact on workers, leading to headaches, low energy, insomnia, and chest pain. Not to mention the long-term effects of stress including depression, heart disease, obesity, hair problems, gastrointestinal problems and more.
Based on the effects of stress, many people believe they can claim workers’ compensation for stress. After all, if they can prove they are being affected by stress, that should be enough ground for a workers’ compensation claim, correct?
The truth is that stress is not necessarily something you can see, and the physical effects of stress can be influenced by many other aspects. All of these factors interfere in workers’ compensation claims for stress, particularly in Florida. So if you are wondering if you can claim workers’ compensation for stress? Find out here.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation Claims
First of all, let’s define what a workers’ compensation claim means. These are laws that outline the different benefits injured employees are entitled to, and the set of procedures or steps they must follow to obtain such benefits. Companies must have some form of workers’ compensation insurance to cover injured employees. Filing a basic workers’ compensation claim is very similar to filing an insurance claim, it is a request for benefits submitted by the injured.
It is important to note that workers’ compensation coverage varies by company, occupation, and state. In Florida, for example, employers with four or more employees, whether part- or full-time, must have compensation insurance for their employees.
Physical Stress Injuries
Physical stress injuries are the easiest ones to notice and identify. Examples of physical stress injuries can be carpal tunnel syndrome due to typing, chronic back pain from heavy lifting, nerve damage due to the use of construction tools, and so on. In these cases, because an employee is performing a repetitive activity over a period of time, he or she is susceptible to suffer a physical problem as a result.
Emotional/Mental Stress Injuries
On the other hand, mental stress injuries are more difficult to prove, which makes it harder for employees to file a workers’ compensation claim. Not to mention, some states don’t cover mental stress injury claims at all.
Compensable Injuries in Florida
Under Florida law, an injury only attributed to stress does not qualify as a work-related accident that could be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. In order to qualify for a workers’ compensation claim for stress, the employee must prove his or her injuries are accompanied by a physical injury that requires medical treatment.
In order to file a workers’ compensation claim for stress in Florida, you need to provide proof that there is some sort of physical trauma accompanying the stress.
What Can You Do?
So, if you have suffered a mental injury resulting from a physical injury, then you can look at a worker’s compensation claim. You will need to prove the injury by providing convincing medical evidence presented by a licensed psychiatrist. Filing a claim for stress injuries and seeking workers’ compensation from it requires the assistance of an experienced attorney that can help you navigate the complex process of filing such a claim.
Demonstrate a link between mental stress and physical injuries: To qualify for workers’ compensation for stress, your condition needs to be related to a physical injury. These injuries can be gastrointestinal disorders, migraines, or any other condition that could be linked to stress.
Provide adequate evidence: Your symptoms and experiences alone will not fulfill the claim requirements. In order to link stress with a physical injury, you need to be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. Imaging tests such as x-rays, MRI, CT Scans, and so on can help you prove the link between both.
Highlight compensable injury: Instead of focusing your claim on stress, highlight your request on the compensable injury instead.
Stress at Work Claim Options
There are also ways of making a claim outside of workers’ compensation. If your job is causing you extreme stress, which is resulting in a related medical problem, you may still have other legal options. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you file for negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress caused by your employer.
Can You File Workers Compensation for Stress?
Looking at stress through a personal injury claim may help you fight for compensation including the coverage of your medical expenses, lost wages, and even compensation for your pain and suffering.
Documenting Stress at Work for Legal Purposes
If you’re experiencing stress at work and you believe it is causing related mental illnesses, you need to begin documenting your stress and start planning your claim. First of all, speak with your superiors or human resource department and submit a formal report so your employer is aware of your mental health state.
Documenting these situations and the symptoms you’re experiencing will help you begin a paper trail that will help with your claim in the future. Later on, whether you proceed with a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim, this documentation can help your attorney establish the root cause of your problem and prepare a solid claim.
Working with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
One of the most important steps you can take to file a claim for the negative effects from work-related stress or emotional distress is seeking legal advice from an experienced workers’ comp attorney. A claim solely based on emotional stress can be challenging in Florida. However, working with a legal team experienced in workers’ compensation issues will give you the best chance of proving your case and fighting to receive your benefits.
If you or someone you know has been negatively affected by work-related stress, contact LJW Legal today and start your journey to fight for fair compensation. We are here to protect you and fight for your rights.