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Can You File a Work Comp Claim for Stress?

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The short answer is, it depends.

Can you file a workers’ compensation claim for a psych injury, anxiety, depression, or stress issues? The short answer is, it depends. This is frustrating, I know. But let me explain.

Generally speaking, in California, if you’ve been injured within the last few years, you cannot file a psych claim if the reason for it is based on the fact that you have a physical injury. So, for example, if you hurt your back at work, and if this is stressing you out, you cannot have additional permanent disability benefits for the psych aspect of the claim. There are a couple of exceptions to this general principle, so you may want to talk to an attorney about this. Typically, though, this is how it is.

What if the reason for your injury is purely stress-related?

If, however, the reason for your psych injury is not based on a physical injury but, instead, based on a specific event that caused stress in and of itself, or if it’s based upon frequent stress on the job, then you may very well have a valid claim for your injury.

Let me provide you with an example. If your boss has a habit of shouting at you or calling you names, and if this is causing you to have a disability, this would be enough for you to at least have a conversation with an attorney about possibly filing a workers’ compensation claim. By disability, what I mean is that you feel that you cannot work at this time because of your psychiatric symptoms or that you feel that you have been permanently injured in a psychiatric way. A doctor will determine whether this is, in fact, true. If, however, you are having these thoughts, I would encourage you to contact an attorney about this, and the attorney can then send you to the appropriate doctor.

Just because you can, does this mean you should?

Keep in mind, though, that you might not want to file a psych claim even if you can. I know that this might sound odd coming from an attorney, but you really need to understand everything that the process of litigation entails.

If you file a psych claim against your employer, then your whole life becomes open to discovery, which means that the other side can call your deposition and ask you about literally anything. The other side is entitled to know every aspect of your life, these depositions include some pretty gnarly questions, which you will have to answer. This process in and of itself can be very stressful, and you cannot include the stress of litigation as part of your claim.

So, take this into serious consideration before you decide to file a psych claim against your employer. Make sure that when you are seeking advice from an attorney, that he or she is not insistent upon filing your claim without warning you about all of the above. It’s important that you think about what the process will do to your life and the quality of it. You have one shot around this globe, and you need to think about whether you want to spend a large chunk of it in litigation if there’s really not a need for doing so. However, if something happened to you at work that is truly wrong and has caused you psych-based disability, you may very well wish to file a workers’ compensation claim.

If you would like to talk to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, please feel free to give me a call. If you reach my voicemail, leave a message, and I will get back to you as soon as I can. You can reach me at 424-388-1001.

Until next time, my hope for you is that you’re living your fullest life possible.

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