Georgia Workers’ Comp Benefits for Mental Harm

Most work injuries are physical. Whether you get sick from toxic exposure, suffer broken bones from a fall, or get carpal tunnel due to repetitive stress, there is some damage to your body for most people who experience on-the-job harm.  Those who have physical damage should generally be able to receive workers’ comp benefits with the help of an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer. This means that as long as you can prove your physical injury is tied back to your job, you should have medical costs covered and disability benefits paid.  hangover-1-949776-m

However, there are certain serious work injuries that are much more difficult to get benefits for through workers’ compensation. These injuries are mental or psychological in nature.

Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Mental Injuries

Safety News Alert recently reported on the difficulty that one worker had in receiving workers’ compensation coverage for post traumatic stress disorder after he was the victim of an on-the-job robbery. The worker had a gun held to his head throughout the course of an armed robbery.  The worker was also duct taped to a chair for around five minutes after the robber fled, before he was able to free himself and call the police.

Plagued with thoughts of the robbery every day, the worker sought psychological counseling. He was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder while receiving this treatment and was told that he could not return to his job. As a result, he made a workers’ compensation claim, which was denied.

The worker appealed and the workers’ compensation judge determined that he was entitled to benefits. The judge’s decision was upheld in an additional subsequent appeal because the PTSD from the robbery was not considered a mental injury that arose out of normal work conditions.

This incident occurred in Pennsylvania, and so the PA state rules on workers’ compensation for mental injuries applied to that particular incident.  The rules differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In PA, the key test for determining if psychological injuries are covered is whether the mental injury was suffered within the scope of employment and was not a response to normal working conditions. In Georgia, on the other hand, the longstanding rule is that mental injuries alone are not covered.  There must have been some type of physical injury in order for an employee to get workers’ comp benefits for PTSD, anxiety or other related mental problems.

The physical injury need not have been serious in order for a worker to make a successful benefits claim. In some cases, even suffering a minor bruise during the course of a robbery has been sufficient for a worker to have both his physical and mental workplace injuries covered.

A Georgia worker should be able to receive benefits for both physical-mental and mental-physical injuries. Physical mental injuries mean that you experience a physical injury that causes you to experience mental harm, while mental-physical means that mental injuries manifest with physical symptoms.   An attorney can help you to try to prove that you are experiencing damage to your health due to mental injuries at work, and that you are deserving of workers’ comp coverage.

The Atlanta work injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience with workers’ compensation claims. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you need help making a workers’ compensation claim.