Can I Receive Workers' Compensation for Mental Injuries?

Posted by Allison Sullivan on Aug 1, 2016 12:30:39 PM

Workers' Compensation cases most often come about as a result of a physical injury such as a construction worker being injured by falling materials, someone slipping and falling on a wet floor with no cautionary sign nearby, or a back injury after lifting something too heavy.

There is a another category of injury, however, that is less talked-about when it comes to Workers' Compensation cases... psychological (or 'mental') injury.

Mental or psychological injuries tend to be harder to see, and employees often underreport them out of a fear of not being taken seriously. If you've undergone psychological stresses or injuries caused by your workplace, you may be wondering if you would be able to file for Workers' Compensation under South Carolina law. 

So, are psychological or mental injuries covered by Workers' Compensation protections?

The Short Answer Is "Yes, but..."

Stress, mental injuries, and mental illness arising out of and in the course of employment unaccompanied by physical injury and resulting in mental illness or injury are not considered a personal injury unless the employee establishes, by a preponderance of the evidence the employee's employment conditions causing the mental injury were extraordinary and unusual in comparison to the normal conditions of the particular employment."  What does this mean for the average WC claim? Basically, if the conditions that caused your mental injury are considered standard conditions of employment that the employee accepted upon hire, it's very unlikely that you will receive compensation for them.

Events like work evaluations, promotions, demotions, salary reviews, or terminations have been claimed as causes of mental injury in the past, but these are generally standard conditions of employment and so it is very difficult to prove the extraordinary conditions required for compensation.  Examples of compensable mental injuries include PTSD following a robbery or assault, or a nervous breakdown caused by an extreme increase in the number of hours of an employee has to work.

This Doesn't Mean "Never."

While it is more difficult to prove mental injury has occurred as a result of workplace conditions or events as opposed to physical injuries, it's not impossible. Claimants have successfully won compensation in the past as a result of mental or psychological injuries that sustained while on the job. One example involves the case of Jane Doe v. South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, where a nurse was able to prove stress-induced injuries resulting from extraordinary conditions of employment.

It's important to speak with a legal representative to get the full scope of options that may be available to you in your unique situation. If you've suffered a mental or psychological injury while on the job and you're wondering what step to take next, Bluestein Attorneys is here to help. We can sit down with you to discuss the injury, when and why it occurred, and work with you to help you choose the next step for you and your family.

At Bluestein Attorneys, we have years of experience working with issues like Workers' Compensation, Social Security Disability, VA Disability claims, and more. Give us a call at (803) 779-7599 or contact us online at any time to request your FREE consultation.


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Topics: Worker's Compensation