The Challenges of PTSD-Related Workers’ Compensation Claims

Post-traumatic stress disorder is typically associated with combat veterans, but in reality, anyone can suffer from this condition. From witnessing a tragic accident to anxiety and fear caused by physical injury, the power and control that PTSD has over a person’s life can be overwhelming.

Those who have experienced PTSD know that it is an ongoing struggle that can affect the body and mind and interfere with the ability to work. The psychological anguish can often manifest in physical symptoms such as chronic pain, ulcers, and headaches, and in extremely severe cases, a change in brain chemistry. For the people who suffer from PTSD and the people closest to them, it is without question a debilitating condition.

Why Work-Related PTSD Cases Are Denied

There are disparities in workers’ compensation programs for PTSD, and they vary from state to state for work-related mental health claims. This often leaves especially vulnerable work groups—such as law enforcement and first responders—without the necessary health coverage or benefits following a traumatic event at work.

There have been several cases of police officers experiencing severe PTSD after involvement in a shooting or accident response, as well as countless others who have witnessed tragedy on the job. In these cases, some of which have reached higher courts, workers’ compensation is denied for one of two reasons:

  • PTSD is a mental condition, not a physical injury.
  • The event responsible for the PTSD was considered a normal part of the job.

However, small changes have been made. In the past, the courts often ruled that PTSD was not a disability. But in 2009, the American with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) broadened the definition of what characterizes a disability, which may ultimately make it easier for employees, especially those in vulnerable work groups, to claim their PTSD as a disability. Changes to policies that govern workers’ compensation for PTSD are ongoing, as more and more states address inadequate regulations for work-related trauma.  

Christopher Hudson Law Would Like to Hear From You

Do you know someone who has suffered from work-related PTSD and has struggled with the workers’ compensation system—particularly a person in a vulnerable work group? What are your thoughts on the way mentally-stimulated PTSD is treated compared to physically-stimulated PTSD? Share your thoughts on Facebook, or sound off in the comment section below!

 

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