Anyone who has experienced a traumatic event may suffer from a condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Often associated with soldiers returning from war, PTSD can occur after car accidents, violent events, and work-related accidents. The last thing anyone experiencing PTSD wants to worry about is whether their job will be impacted by their condition. If PTSD is making it impossible to complete the duties of your job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation until you recover. A qualified personal injury or worker's compensation attorney can help you to assess your case and receive the finances you may be owed.
PTSD in the workplace
Understanding and collecting workers’ compensation benefits can be complicated even with relatively simple work-related injuries. With conditions like PTSD, workers’ comp plans can become increasingly more confusing. Work-related PTSD often occurs when a worker is injured in a severe accident or witnesses a coworker being injured or killed at work. Although PTSD coverage under workers’ comp plans varies from state to state, most states do offer some level of coverage for PTSD and other stress disorders. And under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), PTSD may be an eligible workers’ compensation claim. That being said, obtaining compensation for stress disorders can be a challenge. Proving a stress disorder such as PTSD is not as easy as proving, for example, disfiguring scars from a chemical burn. That is why it is important to recognize and record your PTSD symptoms as early as possible.
Common PTSD symptoms
As with most medical conditions, PTSD symptoms can vary widely from person to person. Mild PTSD may have symptoms similar to anxiety or depression whereas severe PTSD may cause startling, and even violent, behaviors. The most common PTSD symptoms include:
- Depression or anxiety
- Flashbacks of the event that caused the PTSD
- Being jumpy
- Becoming emotionally detached or withdrawn
- Self-destructive behavior
- Violent behavior
- Obsessive-compulsive thoughts or actions
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Nightmares and night terrors
- Chronic headaches
- Stomach ulcers
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Heart attacks
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Contact an experienced attorney
The level of benefits you receive will largely depend on the severity and duration of your PTSD symptoms. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney is essential if you wish to file a claim for PTSD.
According to Nick Fogel, a Colorado-based attorney with the firm of Burg Simpson, PTSD injuries are typically more complicated than physical injuries.
“This is because the diagnosis of PTSD is based primarily on a patient’s subjective symptoms, whereas physical injuries commonly can be confirmed by diagnostic testing. This presents additional challenges when arguing for a work-related PTSD diagnosis and causation within the workers’ compensation system,” Fogel says. “As a result, building solid medical evidence is essential to proving a PTSD related claim. An experienced attorney can assist with establishing the requisite evidence to create the causal link between the on the job exposure to the resulting PTSD.”
Although legal representation is always recommended before filing a workers’ comp claim, it is even more important when you are dealing with mental health disorders. Don’t make the mistake of trying to handle a PTSD-related workers’ comp claim on your own. With the help of a skilled attorney, you can get the compensation you deserve and the time off you need to heal and get back on your feet.