Stout & Casey
Workers' Compensation May Cover More Than Physical Injuries
Unlike most physical injuries, mental and emotional illnesses can be very difficult to detect and treat. Unfortunately for many people, this can lead to them dealing with the stresses these issues create for long periods of time before they get the help they need. These types of issues are just as important as physical injuries and people who have them should be able to get help.
When it comes to physical work-related injuries, workers' compensation is usually one of the first things that come to mind, but most workers are not as sure about compensation benefits when it comes to emotional and/or mental issues. This leaves many workers with the question: Can workers' compensation cover these injuries as well?
Qualifying for workers' compensation in Colorado
In some states, mental injuries are only eligible for coverage under a workers' compensation program if they came as a direct result of a physical injury. For example, if a worker was seriously injured while operating a piece of machinery and now every time they operate that machinery they have debilitating panic attacks, that may qualify for workers' compensation benefits.
Under Colorado law, mental injuries can only be considered to be covered by workers' compensation if they came as a result of "hazards to which the worker would not have been equally exposed outside the employment."
A good example of this is a case wherein a police officer who spent time as an undercover narcotics agent was awarded disability benefits because his work resulting in him having anxiety, depression and PTSD.
What should workers do if they think they have a claim?
If you suspect that you are suffering from severe stress and mental issues because of your work, it is important that you take certain steps.
Seek medical help
In addition to assisting in recovery and increasing overall well being, seeing a medical professional and working with them to verify that you are suffering will go a long way in any legal proceedings.
Inform your employer
As soon as you know that you are suffering from a work-related injury of any kind, you should notify your employer. They should be able to provide you with information about what your next steps should be, but if they do not, more information can be found on the Colorado workers' compensation website.
These issues can seem daunting and overwhelming when they happen. Fortunately, there are people who specialize in these types of matters. If you find yourself in a situation where you are considering filing a workers' compensation claim, it is suggested that you seek out the service of a knowledgeable and experienced legal professional.