While it is expected that employees will occasionally be under some form of stress, it is not acceptable for an employee to be constantly navigating an excessive amount of workplace stress. Under these circumstances, an employee who is suffering from work-related stress can make a claim for stress-related workers’ compensation. If you’re curious about how workers compensation works when it comes to stress, keep reading or speak to one of our experienced workers compensation lawyers today.
- How to Identify Work-Related Stress
- How to Prove Work-Related Stress
- Claiming Stress-Related Workers Compensation
- Stress-Related Workers Compensation Benefits
- Returning to Work
Identifying Work-Related Stress
There are various types of work pressures and conditions that can cause an employee to have a viable stress-related workers’ compensation claim. These circumstances can include:
- Ongoing staff shortages
- Excessive workloads
- Physical abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Denied vacation time
- Management issues
However, for any of these psychological injury claims to be successfully pursued, it is important for the employee to be vigilant in recording the stressful conditions and seek medical and/or psychological assistance.
How to Prove Work-Related Stress
Work-related stress claims can be difficult to prove. If you are experiencing work-related stress that is causing you injury, it is important that you do the following:
- Be able to easily identify the source of the work-related stress
- Document that the work situation has had a significant effect on your work and/or personal quality of life.
- For example: Increased rate of physical illness, anxiety, depression, medical treatment including care from a psychologist or psychiatrist, and absenteeism related to the stress.
- Medical treatment: In order to effectively prove a claim for stress-related workers compensation, you will need medical evidence in the form of a diagnosis of injury from a mental health professional or accredited specialist.
Claiming Stress-Related Workers’ Compensation
As with all work-related injuries, an employee must do the following to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
The employee must:
- Give notice to your employer that you are experiencing work-related stress that is having a significant impact on your life.
- Provide the employer with a written statement attesting to the circumstances causing the injury.
- Complete all of the required paperwork to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Return the paperwork to your employer.
- Seek medical attention from an appropriate professional.
The employer is responsible for the following:
- Securing a statement from the injured employee explaining the nature of the work-related stress injury.
- Providing the employee with the necessary paperwork to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Notifying their workers’ compensation insurance carrier that a claim is being filed.
Once both the employee and the employer have the information pertaining to the stress-related workers’ compensation claim, a decision can be made by the employer’s insurance carrier to accept or deny the claim.
If the claim is accepted, the employee will begin receiving benefits. Benefits will continue until the employee is well enough to return to work. Under these circumstances, the employee will also be entitled to the employer paying for ongoing medical needs, including prescription medications and therapy.
In the event that the claim is challenged and/or denied by the insurance carrier, it is best for the injured employee to seek legal advice as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer who specialises in workers’ compensation law will be able to assist the injured employee through the process.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
As an injured worker, you will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Some of the types of benefits you will be allotted include:
- Payment for lost wages while being on stress leave.
- Medical expenses, including therapies, therapeutics, physician appointments and/or hospitalisation if needed.
- Settlement in the event of permanent disability. A finding of permanent disability would need to be determined by your physician and possibly reviewed by a physician from the insurance carrier. In the event that permanent disability is found to exist, you and your personal lawyer will need to negotiate a final settlement with the employer and their insurance carrier. The amount of the settlement will vary depending upon the facts of each case.
Returning to Work
Prior to attempting to return to work, an employee should do the following:
- Request a physician to assess the need for time off from the workplace.
- Take the recommended amount of time away from work.
- Participate in all recommended therapeutics and/or therapies.
- Keep your employer updated as to your mental/emotional health.
- Provide an estimated timeline for your return to work.
- Initially, return to work for shorter periods of time or begin by working remotely.
- Increase your time at your workplace in accordance with doctor’s recommendations and your success.
- Speak openly with your supervisor and/or employer about what changes and/or improvements can be made to your work conditions for a healthier environment.
Remember: There are Workers Compensation Time Limits so don’t hesitate to act.
While it can be difficult to admit that you are experiencing work-related stress that is incapacitating, it is important that an injured worker take the necessary steps to protect their emotional and mental wellbeing. There is no shame in admitting that you may need professional help and some time off when suffering from work-related stress.
If you find yourself in need of assistance with your stress-related workers’ compensation claim, or any other legal issue, please contact the law offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780.