Workers’ compensation is an essential insurance system that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees who suffer injuries or illnesses while performing their job duties. But when it comes to mental health issues, are they covered under workers’ compensation in North Carolina?
The answer is that you may be able to obtain benefits for a mental health condition, but the process is complicated. Let’s delve deeper into this topic. Our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers are here to help with your case, so contact us for a free consultation.
A Closer Look at Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is an insurance system that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees who get injured or become ill due to their jobs. In North Carolina, businesses that employ three or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
The Prevalence of Mental Health Issues in the Workplace
Mental health issues are increasingly common in today’s high-stress work environments. Some of the most prevalent mental health conditions faced by employees in North Carolina include:
- Anxiety and Depression: Stressful and toxic work environments can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed or anxious, which can eventually result in depression.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): This condition can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event at the workplace.
- Insomnia: This sleep disorder, often associated with other mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, can affect an individual’s ability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
- Schizophrenia: This chronic mental disorder, which affects a person’s thinking and behavior, can be linked to toxic environments and traumatizing events.
Anxiety-related workers’ comp claims are difficult to prove. You need to show that your anxiety is caused by the conditions of your specific job, and not just general “work-related stress.” Most jobs involve some degree of stress, like deadlines and pressure to keep customers or clients happy.
The Scope of Workers’ Compensation for Mental Health Issues
In North Carolina, workers’ compensation does cover mental health issues, but certain conditions must be met. The mental condition must be due to a work accident or an occupational disease.
Two types of mental health claims can be pursued under workers’ compensation:
- Mental/Mental Claims: These claims involve mental conditions or disabilities that arise due to work-related stress or trauma, without any physical injury.
- Physical/Mental Claims: These claims involve mental conditions or disabilities that develop as a result of a physical injury at the workplace.
The North Carolina Industrial Commission is more likely to approve a claim for mental health issues related to a physical injury. For example, a police officer is injured in a shooting and develops PTSD.
If you have questions about the strength of your claim, you can reach out to us for a free consultation.
The Procedure to Claim Workers’ Compensation for Mental Health Issues
The process of claiming workers’ compensation for mental health issues involves several steps.
- Report the Injury: The first step is to report your mental health issue to your employer.
- Seek Medical Care: Seek medical care from a qualified professional. In some states, you must see an approved doctor from a list your employer provides.
- File a Claim: You need to file a workers’ compensation claim by completing the appropriate paperwork detailing your injuries and their cause.
- Prove the Claim: You must prove that your mental health issue is a result of a work accident or an occupational disease.
Challenges in Claiming Workers’ Compensation for Mental Health Issues
Claiming workers’ compensation for mental health issues can be challenging. While many physical injuries are compensable and easy to prove, mental conditions pose many challenges. Proving a mental health condition is work-related has proven difficult for many workers.
Mental health conditions often result from multiple work and non-work-related factors, making it difficult to clearly show a workplace connection.
Success Rate of Workers’ Compensation Claims for Mental Health Issues
While there is no specific data on the success rate of workers’ compensation claims for mental health issues in North Carolina, it is known that these claims can be harder for a plaintiff to prove.
Nevertheless, with the right legal advice and a comprehensive approach that includes gathering compelling evidence, obtaining appropriate medical documentation, addressing stigma and bias, and complying with legal requirements, it is possible to successfully claim workers’ compensation for mental health issues.
Call Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
While it’s possible to obtain workers’ compensation for mental health issues in North Carolina, the process can be complex and requires meeting certain conditions. If you’re dealing with a work-related mental health issue, seek legal advice from our Charlotte work injury lawyers to understand your rights and the compensation you may be entitled to.