PTSD and the Workplace - Impact on Workers Compensation

PTSD and Workers’ Compensation in PA

PTSD in the workplace

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a mental health condition that may occur at any point of time after you have witnessed or experienced a significantly traumatic event. PTSD in the workplace is more common than one might think, especially if a work injury has occurred.

When such an event occurs at the workplace in Pennsylvania, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation for your PTSD condition.

If you believe you are suffering from PTSD, you should promptly seek medical advice. Any delay in treatment could worsen your condition and put your workers’ comp claim in PA at risk.

Mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder are no less serious than bodily injuries and should be addressed with the same level of care.

Causes of PTSD at the Workplace

Post-traumatic stress disorder at the workplace in PA is more common in occupations such as firefighters, police officers, and EMTs (emergency medical technicians). However, a dangerous or highly stressful work environment in any type of job can put workers at the risk of PTSD.

Workers’ compensation claims may sometimes include both work-related physical injuries as well as PTSD.

A worker who has suffered a workplace accident may fully recover from the physical injury, but may still continue to experience persistent PTSD symptoms for several years after the accident.

In such cases, the law in Pennsylvania allows workers to claim workers’ compensation for both the physical injury and PTSD.

Another common cause of work-related post-traumatic stress disorder claims in Pennsylvania is a workplace accident where one worker witnesses another worker suffering a severe injury or fatality.

PTSD symptoms usually get triggered by a sudden, traumatic event, which could be a gruesome accident, an assault, or another horrific situation.

A worker may find it difficult to perform their job due to the severe symptoms when they are suffering from PTSD. Even when a worker is in a position to perform their job safely, their PTSD symptoms are likely to involve years of medical review and treatment.

PTSD in the workplace

Burden of Proof lies on the Injured Worker in PA

Workers’ compensation judges in the past have awarded workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers having suffered from PTSD resulting from traumatic events at the workplace.

Under PA law, when PTSD occurs unaccompanied by a physical injury, it is considered as a “mental injury.” To obtain compensation, the worker in Pennsylvania will be required to prove that they sustained their “mental injury” due to an abnormal condition at the workplace.

Workers who sustain a physical injury are only required to show that their injury occurred within the scope and course of their employment. They are not obligated to additionally prove the occurrence of an abnormal condition or event at the workplace.

However, in the absence of a physical injury, the PTSD victim is required to establish that their condition was caused due to the existence of an abnormal condition or event at the workplace (such as severe job stress or the occurrence of a natural disaster).  

Therefore, to successfully win a PTSD workers’ compensation claim in Pennsylvania, the worker may have to present documentary evidence from doctors or therapists as well as testimonies from other witnesses and experts.