Workers’ Compensation for Stress and Anxiety

Workers’ Compensation For Stress And Anxiety.It is estimated that 40 million US adults have some type of mental health condition.[1] Workers often suffer from mental health ailments due to a variety of reasons applicable to the workplace.

Under New Jersey law, mental health disorders are compensable under workers’ compensation, however, an employee would need to prove that their stress, illness, or mental health condition is a direct result of their work or occupational exposure.

At Livingston DiMarzio, LLP, we recognize that stress and psychological injuries are difficult. Our firm prides itself in knowing how to handle these types of cases and works to provide you with expert representation you can be proud of.

What is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance coverage that most employers are required to purchase. It provides exclusive remedy for a compensable injury, disability, or death that occurs during or because of one’s employment. This includes medical care, including physical therapy and rehabilitative services, missed wage replacement, and death benefits.

Due to the nature of no-fault insurance, you are not required to prove that your compensable injury was your employer’s fault. If your injury is a direct consequence of being under the influence of a substance such as drugs or alcohol, or of an attempt to injure oneself or others during work, you may lose your right to compensation.[2]

Workers often experience troubling or difficult conditions at work that can lead to psychological injury, including:

Types of Work-Related Conditions That Can Lead to Psychological injury

Heavy workload

Perhaps your boss is assigning you more work to assess your abilities. This can lead to more pressure on you and affect your psyche. You may feel a need to take on this work to maintain your job or compete for a promotion or raise that you have always wanted. Meanwhile, you might get backlogged, exhausted, and burnt out, all of which can contribute towards your injury.

Downsizing

You may have had to take on more work because your company, department, or unit has downsized or laid off employees and there is more responsibility on your shoulders.

Changes in Job Duties

A manager may change their employee’s job duties due to factors unrelated to the employee, such as company financial hardship. They may also change their job duties to test the worker to see if they can handle different tasks in anticipation for an employee advancement.

Tight Deadlines

When workers are not given enough time to complete their tasks, each task can feel daunting. Employees may feel like it is a race against time.

Workplace Abuse

Your boss may not be the kindest person you are working with. Perhaps they yell at you frequently and are unreasonably harsh. This can cause you anxiety and undue hardship.

Workplace Violence

Some industries have higher rates of workplace violence than others. These include:

  • Security guards and law enforcement
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing and residential care facilities
  • Transportation
  • Teaching

Criminal Activity

An employee can become a victim of workplace violence through criminal activity. A common example is in law enforcement. It includes criminals trying to rob items or precious metals, which you may attempt to stop. An individual could also vandalize company property, which may get caught in.

Customer vs. Employee Violence

Some employees may feel like they are threading a needle when working with customers as to not aggravate or provoke them. This can obviously be stressful and does not always work. Arguments happen, and when they do, they can lead to altercations.

Active Shooter Scenarios

A disgruntled employee, or perhaps someone entirely unrelated, may come into the workplace and start shooting at people. Post-traumatic stress disorder commonly accompanies experiences such as this.

Workplace Death

A death in the workplace or during working hours can be hard to stomach. Perhaps an EMT was not able to save someone’s life even though the death was perhaps preventable. In other cases, an employee might have been close with a deceased coworker. Sadness and depression may follow such unfortunate events.[3]

What Steps Should I Take if I want to File a Workers’ Comp Claim?

Documenting your instances of workplace stress can be helpful when filing a claim. This includes adding the date and time of events as well as a description of your experiences. Leaving a paper trail will help solidify your claim and provide meaningful evidence.

Seeking professional help will aid you in trying to prove that the cause of your condition is a direct result of your work and that you are serious about your claim. You may want to see a psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist depending on your condition. They may be able to help you recover while you obtain compensation. They may also be able to provide expert testimony asserting your claim in court.

What if I Have a Pre-Existing Mental Disposition?

If you have or have had a pre-existing mental disposition, such as you have always had a compulsive personality, were obsessive, or you were a perfectionist, (prior to the workplace in context), you may still qualify.

If the workplace condition(s) would have been stressful or traumatic for someone without such a disposition, you may be able to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. This is affirmed in Goyden v. State Judiciary, where the petitioner suffered from these prior conditions, yet was able to claim workers’ compensation benefits.[4]

Why Choose Livingston DiMarzio, LLP?

Many people have stories to tell when it comes to how their work has negatively impacted them on a professional and personal level. At Livingston DiMarzio, LLP, we understand that work can interfere with your daily life and can cause you stress and other hardship.

We also understand that what you are experiencing is not your fault. Workers do not choose to suffer from stress, depression, anxiety, trauma, or other psychological disorders.

When you choose us, we keep you top of mind. Our experienced attorneys are compassionate towards your needs and will stand up for you. If you experienced work-related psychological injury, contact us today for a free consultation at 973-943-4961 or reach out with a case form.


[1] Harnois, Gaston, and Phyllis Gabriel. “Mental health and work: Impact, issues and good practices.” (2000).

[2] “Why Are Workers’ Comp Laws Called No-Fault Laws?” Pie Insurance, Pie Insurance, 8 Apr. 2021, pieinsurance.com/blog/workers-comp/why-are-workers-comp-laws-called-no-fault-laws/.

[3] “Work-Related Stress.” Work-Related Stress – Better Health Channel, State of Victoria, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/work-related-stress.

[4] Goyden v. State Judiciary, 607 A.2d 651, 256 N.J. Super. 438 (Super. Ct. App. Div. 1991).

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