Mental Illness: Can You File for Workers Comp?

In the workplace, a mental illness can be just as dangerous as a physical one. Most of the cases our Charlotte workers comp attorneys handle involve a physical injury of some sort. Perhaps you were injured while using a piece of defective equipment at work. Maybe you slipped and fell at work and injured your back. When you suffer a physical injury, it is a lot easier to be approved for workers’ compensation benefits.

However, it is possible to receive workers comp for mental illness. Some of the more common types of mental illnesses we see are depression, anxiety, and PTSD. If you believe that you’re suffering from any of these disorders and you believe that it is related to your job, contact our office right away.

You can schedule a free, initial consultation with one of our Charlotte workers comp attorneys. You can do so over the phone or, if you prefer, you can do so through our website.

Here, we will discuss the difficulties of having your workers’ compensation claim for mental illness approved. We will also describe the circumstances under which your claim is most likely to be approved. If you still have questions about your own case, feel free to contact our office directly.

Technically, You Can Receive Workers Comp Benefits for a Mental Illness

One thing we like to tell our clients is that they are technically entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer a mental illness. However, there are many caveats to this statement. It is rare that your employer or their insurance company will approve a workers’ compensation claim for a mental illness. This is because it’s very difficult to convince them that your mental illness was caused by your job.

For example, if you claim that you’re suffering from anxiety but have a very stress-free job, your workers’ compensation claim will likely be denied. If, on the other hand, you are claiming that you’re suffering from PTSD after suffering a work-related car accident, there is a better chance that you’ll receive benefits.

Proving You Deserve Workers Comp for Mental Illness

The only way that your Charlotte workers comp attorney can help you get workers comp benefits is if you can show that your mental illness is related to your job. Specifically, there are two ways that you can be approved for workers comp benefits due to a mental illness.

Mental Illness Caused by a Workplace Accident

The first way is by showing that your mental illness was specifically triggered by a workplace accident. For example, if you were injured in a chemical fire at work and became disfigured, it would make sense that you were suffering from depression or PTSD.

A Mental Condition Caused by Occupational Disease

The second way you can qualify for workers’ compensation due to a mental illness is if you can tie it in with an occupational disease. A good example of this would be a firefighter who worked with asbestos most of their career and ended up with mesothelioma. Knowing that this is almost always a terminal disease, it would make sense that this worker would suffer from depression and anxiety.

A woman with anxiety and depression because of her job

You Must Also Show That You Meet the Other Criteria for Workers Compensation in North Carolina

Clearly, it is more difficult to receive workers’ compensation benefits for suffering a mental illness than a physical injury. However, if you want any chance of having your workers’ compensation claim approved, you must still meet the basic criteria for workers comp. This means that your Charlotte workers comp attorney must demonstrate the following:

  • Your injury or illness took place on the job or on company property
  • You do not have a pre-existing condition for the same mental illness
  • You reported your injury or illness within a reasonable time frame
  • You agreed to submit to a drug test prior to treatment
  • You understand and agree to be treated by state-approved workers’ compensation doctor
  • You cooperate with your doctor and attend all necessary appointments

As long as you meet these criteria, the odds of your workers’ compensation claim being approved will increase.

What Benefits Will You Receive if Your Claim is Approved?

If your workers’ compensation claim is approved, you will receive certain benefits. The first type of benefit you will receive is medical coverage for your mental illness. Obviously, if your mental illness is related to a workplace injury or occupational disease, treatment for the underlying issue will also be covered.

In addition to medical coverage, your Charlotte workers comp attorney will make sure you receive your weekly benefits as well. In North Carolina, as in most other states, your weekly benefits will be equal to 2/3 of your average weekly wages. They will continue until you return to work or until the benefits period expires, whichever comes sooner.

Reach Out to a Charlotte Workers Comp Attorney as Early as Possible

If you suffer any type of injury at work, including a mental illness, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Before you file your claim, however, you should sit down with a Charlotte workers comp attorney first. Your attorney will let you know what the odds are of your claim being approved.

They can also help you make sure that your workers’ compensation claim is filed properly from the start. If your employer or their insurance carrier denies your claim, your Charlotte workers comp attorney can help you file an appeal.

It is important to remember that it’s much harder to receive workers comp for mental illness than for a physical injury. As described here, you will have to demonstrate that your mental illness is somehow related to either a workplace injury or an occupational disease. It is very difficult to do this. However, that does not mean that you have no chance of receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

We suggest that you contact our office as soon as possible to schedule your free, initial consultation. This gives you a chance to sit down with a seasoned Charlotte workers comp attorney and find out if your claim has merit. Since the consultation is free, and since you pay nothing upfront, it is to your advantage to come into the office as soon as possible.