Work Stress & Mental Health Claims
Making Sure Mental Health is a Priority in Riverside and Southern California Workplaces
Anyone who has ever suffered from a mental health condition can tell you that they are just as real, and just as debilitating, as a physical injury. Anxiety, depression, stress, and other conditions can limit a person’s ability to work, enjoy daily activities, and live their lives generally. When that condition is caused by a stressful workplace, it is easy to feel like there is no solution. Thankfully, California lawmakers understand that psychiatric injury deserves treatment and compensation just as much as physical injury.
At Ochoa & Calderon, our compassionate California workers’ compensation attorneys have over 25 years of combined experience helping injured workers get the medical care and benefits they are owed, regardless of the nature of the workplace injury. We understand the sensitive and intricate nature of psychiatric injury claims, and we know how to gather the appropriate proof to make sure that you get the medical care and workers’ comp benefits that you need. Whether you are temporarily or permanently disabled, or whether you are simply trying to get medical care so that you can return to work, Ochoa & Calderon is here to help you get the financial benefits you are owed.
Are Mental Health Claims Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
California law guarantees all employees workers’ compensation coverage for job-related injuries. Workers’ compensation covers more than just physical accidents; it includes any work-related illness or injury. Injuries or illnesses that develop over time, for example, are covered, so long as they are connected to work (repetitive stress injuries, exposure to chemicals in the workplace, etc.) Workers’ comp covers illnesses and conditions relating to mental health, not just physical health.
In California, mental health conditions caused by work are covered by workers’ compensation. Like any other workers’ comp claims, the key is to connect the condition to the workplace and/or work-related tasks. Conditions such as anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, clinical depression, and physical conditions caused by workplace stress (hypertension, heart attack, etc.) are all compensable.
When Are Anxiety or Stress-Related Claims Compensable in California?
Workers’ compensation covers conditions caused by work-related stress. Proving that a mental health condition is compensable, however, can be a tricky process. Lawmakers added special rules concerning psychiatric injuries and illnesses under the workers’ comp system because they are different in kind from physical injuries. Because psychiatric injuries are more internal and harder to objectively view, employers and lawmakers wanted additional standards to ensure psychiatric injuries were legitimate.
In California, an employee can recover for mental health conditions caused by workplace stress so long as the following are true:
- The worker has a “mental disorder” identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) that has been medically diagnosed using appropriate procedures.
- Due to the mental injury, the worker required medical treatment or has experienced disability (e., has missed work or has been unable to perform some work tasks).
- The condition was predominantly (at least 51%) caused by the actual circumstances of employment.
- The worker has been employed with the employer for at least six months, unless the condition arose from a sudden, extraordinary condition at work.
- The condition was not caused by a good faith personnel action (such as criticism of a worker’s conduct or decisions about a raise or promotion).
Additional requirements apply if a worker files for workers’ comp after termination of employment based on psychiatric injury. Given the complex nature of filing for psychiatric injury, it is important to have a seasoned workers’ comp attorney on your side if you are seeking workers’ compensation.
Our Riverside Work Stress & Mental Health Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Are Here to Help You Secure the Benefits You Deserve
For help getting benefits for a work-related physical or mental injury or illness, call Ochoa & Calderon to discuss your case with an experienced and knowledgeable California workers’ comp lawyer. Call 951-901-4444 in Riverside or 844-401-0750 toll-free throughout Southern California.