Workers Compensation For Psychological Injury

If you have experienced a work-related psychological injury, you may not be aware that you can make a claim for workers compensation, the same way a worker with a physical injury can. Here is what you need to know about workers compensation for psychological injury.

What causes work-related psychological injuries?

Although it is one cause of psychological injury, bullying is not the only way a person can sustain a mental injury at work. The injury may come on slowly as a result of endured conditions or it could occur after one traumatic workplace incident, such as being witness to the death or serious injury of a co-worker, or a violent crime being committed in the workplace. Some other common causes of work-related psychological injuries include:

  • the stress of a heavy workload;
  • bullying and/or harassment by a manager(s) or colleague(s);
  • being denied time off;
  • working long hours;
  • working in a high-risk or stressful environment;
  • dealing with the traumatic subject matter;
  • a lack of job security; and/or
  • poor physical working conditions.

How can a psychological injury present in a worker?

A psychological injury typically manifests as:

  • depression;
  • anxiety;
  • insomnia;
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
  • extreme mood swings;
  • weight loss or gain and/or
  • fear or paranoia,

but may show up in any number of ways depending on the person and the cause of their injury.

What must a worker do to prove they have suffered a work-related psychological injury?

Similarly to a physical injury, a worker who has suffered a psychological injury will need to prove that an incident(s) occurred at their workplace and/or related to their work which was a contributing factor in, or the cause of, the decline of their health.

To achieve this, the worker must be able to demonstrate that they were functioning well mentally prior to the incident taking place.

How can an injured worker commence a claim for compensation for a work-related psychological injury?

To commence a claim for compensation for a work-related psychological injury, an injured worker will need to follow the same steps they would if the injury were physical. This means:

  • informing their employer that they believe they are experiencing a psychological injury, and completing any relevant paperwork provided by the employer;
  • providing information about the incident(s) which caused the injury and any symptoms they are experiencing;
  • seeking the advice and treatment of a medical professional (usually a GP in the first instance); and
  • providing any relevant medical evidence to the employer.

Employers bear the responsibility of enabling the injured worker to make a claim by:

  • supplying the injured worker with the necessary forms they need to bring a claim;
  • informing the insurer that a claim is being made and providing them with the necessary information about the employee and the injury;
  • confirming with the worker that the claim process is in effect (insofar as the employer can assist);
  • providing compensation (where relevant or so ordered); and
  • putting in place measures to assist the injured worker with their recovery and/or return to work.

Is it possible to seek compensation for a psychological injury which is caused by a work-related physical injury?

Typically, yes. If a psychological injury or mental illness manifests as a result of a work-related physical injury then it may form part of a workers compensation claim.

These types of injuries are known as ‘secondary injuries’ and are quite common. When a person has been injured and is unable to work, care for themselves and maintain the life they are used to, it is not unusual for that person to experience depression, anxiety or a general sense of despair, particularly if they have not received a positive prognosis about their condition.

If an injured worker starts to experience a decline in their mental health after being injured at work they should inform their doctor and employer as soon as possible. If the worker has engaged a personal injury lawyer to assist them with their claim they should also let them know so that the claim can be updated to include the secondary injury.

Making a claim for a work-related injury, whether physical, psychological, or both can often be a complex and time-consuming process. A successful claim means having a strong case, all the relevant information and evidence and strict adherence to deadlines. It is beneficial to seek the assistance of a personal injury lawyer who can manage your claim and increase your chances of seeking compensation.

If you have sustained an injury in the workplace and want to commence a claim for compensation, contact Cairns Injury Lawyers today. 

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