Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a medical condition that affects a person’s psychiatric health. It can stem from surviving or witnessing a traumatic event, such as a car accident or criminal attack. PTSD can cause debilitating symptoms such as intense anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, depression, and trouble sleeping. If an employee in Pennsylvania develops PTSD after a work-related accident or event, that person may be able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for related damages.
An Employee’s Burden of Proof in Pennsylvania
Workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania aims to provide monetary damages to workers who suffer injuries while on the job. The employee forfeits his or her right to bring a lawsuit against the employer in exchange for the ability to recover benefits for injuries without having to prove anyone else’s negligence. If an employee wishes to obtain workers’ comp benefits after an accident, he or she must report the accident and file a claim with the employer’s insurance company. Once accepted, the employee will receive benefits accordingly.
In Pennsylvania, a worker’s injuries do not have to be physical to qualify for workers’ compensation. It is still possible for employees in Pennsylvania to recover workers’ compensation benefits for a solely mental injury, as long as the employee can prove that he or she acquired the PTSD as a result of a work condition. Under Pennsylvania law, post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental injury if it does not have an associated physical injury. If the employee has PTSD and a physical injury, the employee only needs to prove that he or she suffered the injury on the job.
If you have post-traumatic stress disorder from an abnormal condition at your workplace, such as extreme job stress or a natural disaster, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. If you do not have a physical injury, however, you will have to prove that an abnormal working condition caused the psychological trauma. This may take documentation from therapists or doctors, as well as testimony from other experts and witnesses. If the event in question is a normal condition of your job, you may not receive benefits. A lawyer can help you with your PTSD workers’ compensation claim to increase your odds of success.
How to File a Workers’ Comp Claim for PTSD in PA
A workers’ comp claim for PTSD will be similar to physical injury claims – at least in the beginning. You will need to report the incident to a supervisor or employer as soon as possible, but at least within 30 days of it happening. You or your employer will then fill out and submit an official workers’ compensation claim to the employer’s insurance company. The initial paperwork will ask you to describe the incident and your injuries or trauma claimed. Your employer typically has seven days from the date you report your injuries to file a workers’ comp claim.
Upon receiving your claim, the insurance company may contact you for more information as it conducts its review. You may need to prove your PTSD stemmed from an abnormal work condition at this point, if you do not have physical injuries corresponding to your mental injury. If you do have physical injuries, your claim will progress like a normal workers’ comp claim. The insurance company will either accept or deny your claim.
If you receive an acceptance, you and the insurance company will enter into compensation negotiations. You may either accept the first offer or negotiate for higher benefits, if you believe your injuries warrant them. A lawyer can help you negotiate a fairer settlement from an insurance company. If the insurer denies your claim, you and your lawyer can appeal the decision through the appropriate courts. The appeals process will involve hearings, during which you and your lawyer will state your case for PTSD benefits. Having an attorney by your side can give you peace of mind during the workers’ comp process.