Changing Attitudes on Workers Compensation for Mental Health
Mental health issues are becoming increasingly common in the workplace, and this is reflected in the rising number of workers compensation claims for mental injuries.
However, there are a number of legal challenges associated with mental health workers compensation claims, such as the difficulty of proving causation and the unfortunate stigma associated with mental illness.
In this article the experienced workers compensation attorneys at Cantrell Green in Orange County explain the challenges associated with bringing a workers compensation claim for mental illness, and we discuss some recent cases and legislation in the US involving workers compensation claims for mental injuries.
Challenges With Mental Health Workers Compensation Claims
One of the biggest challenges in proving a mental health workers compensation claim is showing that the mental injury was caused by the work. This can be difficult because mental health conditions are often caused by a combination of factors, both work-related and non-work-related. In order to prove causation, the worker must show that the work was a substantial factor in causing the mental injury.
Another challenge in proving a mental health workers compensation claim is the stigma associated with mental illness. Some employers and insurance companies may be reluctant to believe that a mental injury is real or that it was caused by the work. This can make it difficult for workers to get the benefits they deserve.
‘Standard of Proof’ for Mental Health Workers Compensation
The standard of proof for mental health workers compensation claims can vary from state to state. In some states, workers must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence, which means that it is more likely than not that the work caused the mental injury. In other states, workers must prove their case by clear and convincing evidence, which means that it is highly probable that the work caused the mental injury.
In California, workers comp claimants must prove that “actual events of employment” were the “predominant” cause of the psychiatric injury. This means that when all the causes of the mental illness are taken into account, working conditions must be at least 51% responsible.
In many cases, it is necessary to obtain expert testimony in order to prove a mental health workers compensation claim. This can be expensive and time-consuming.
Despite these challenges, it is important for workers who believe that they have a mental health workers compensation claim to file a claim. With the help of an experienced workers compensation attorney, workers can often overcome these challenges and get the benefits they deserve.
Recent Cases Affecting Mental Health Workers Compensation Claims
Thankfully, attitudes toward mental illness are changing in the United States. A few cases have recently been decided that have been favorable for allowing workers compensation for mental illness.
In Guerrero v. Ramcast Steel Fabrication, the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) held that a worker’s mental injury was compensable even though it did not arise from a single, identifiable event. The worker had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after working in a factory where he was exposed to violence and threats of violence. The WCAB found that the worker’s PTSD was caused by the cumulative stress of his work environment.
In Adams v. City of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that a police officer’s mental injury was compensable even though it was caused by a combination of work-related and non-work-related factors. The police officer had been diagnosed with PTSD after responding to a number of traumatic events, including a shooting and a car accident. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that the work-related factors were a substantial factor in causing the police officer’s PTSD.
The California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) is currently considering a number of cases that involve mental health injuries. These cases are likely to have a significant impact on the law in this area.
Recent Laws Affecting Mental Health Workers Compensation Claims
In HB 1873, the Illinois legislature enacted a law that expanded the definition of a compensable mental injury. The law now includes mental injuries that are caused by “repetitive stress,” which is defined as “the performance of the same or similar job tasks over a period of time.” This law is expected to make it easier for workers to obtain workers compensation benefits for mental injuries caused by their work.
In the State of California, senate bill SB 868 (enacted in 2021), expanded the definition of a compensable mental injury to include “any mental injury that results from a stress-related injury.” This law is expected to make it easier for workers to obtain workers compensation benefits for mental injuries caused by their work.
AB 2900, which was proposed in 2022, would have created a new category of workers compensation benefits for “repetitive stress mental injury.” This bill did not pass, but it is indicative of the growing interest in expanding workers compensation benefits for mental health injuries.
Attorneys for Mental Health Workers Comp Claims
As the stigma surrounding mental illness begins to erode, and the medical community and the general public begin to understand these issues, there is a growing discussion about the need to improve workers compensation benefits for mental health injuries.
California’s workers’ compensation law is relatively unique in providing coverage for mental health conditions related to work-related stress. This is an important protection for workers who may be experiencing significant psychological distress as a result of their job duties. However, the eligibility requirements can be complex, and workers may face challenges in obtaining the benefits they need – so call the experienced California workers compensation attorneys at Cantrell Green to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the maximum benefits for which you may qualify.
Your consultation with our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys is 100% confidential, and neither your employer nor your insurance company will be notified that you requested a consultation with us. Our attorneys will help you understand your rights and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum workers’ compensation benefits for which you qualify.
Workers Comp Attorneys | Mental Health: 800-964-8047