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Can Psychological Issues Be the Basis of a Workers’ Comp Claim?

Posted on - Wednesday, October 12, 2016 under Workers Compensation Can Psychological Issues Be the Basis of a Workers’ Comp Claim?

Not all work injuries are physical. Our jobs can also cause us psychological trauma, from stress and anxiety to depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder. But even if you cannot work due to a mental condition related to or caused by your job, that doesn’t mean that your condition will qualify you for Georgia workers’ comp benefits.

If you want to claim workers’ compensation benefits for a psychological condition arising out of your employment, you also need to demonstrate a physical injury. Under Georgia law, a psychological injury is compensable only “if it arises naturally and unavoidably from some discernible physical occurrence.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the physical injury has to be the cause of the mental injury, but the absence of a physical injury will exclude the possibility of obtaining benefits. In order for a psychological injury to be compensable in Georgia, that injury:

  • must arise out of an accident in which a compensable physical injury was sustained; and
    while the physical injury need not be the precipitating cause of the psychological condition or problems, at a minimum, the physical injury must contribute to the continuation of the psychological trauma.
    Or, as one Georgia court framed the analysis:

[A] claimant is entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act for mental disability and psychic treatment which, while not necessarily precipitated by a physical injury, arose out of an accident in which a compensable physical injury was sustained, and that injury contributes to the continuation of the psychic trauma. The physical injury need not be the precipitating cause of the psychic trauma; it is compensable if the physical injury contributes to the continuation of the psychic trauma.
Abernathy v. City of Albany, 269 Ga. 88, 88-89, 495 S.E.2d 13 (1998)

Anyone who has suffered a serious physical injury that has kept them out of work for an extended period of time can tell you that depression and similar emotional disorders can follow in their wake. Such psychological conditions, supported by sufficient medical evidence, may qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits. In contrast, if you suffer from debilitating stress, anxiety, or depression because of such things as being yelled at by a horrible boss, being demoted, getting fired, or otherwise facing negative consequences or feedback regarding your job performance, you will not qualify for benefits. If you have questions about whether your psychological or emotional condition may entitle you to workers’ compensation benefits, please call an experienced Georgia workers’ comp lawyer today.

The Parian Law Firm: West Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

At The Parian Law Firm, we take pride in protecting the health and the rights of injured Georgia workers through skilled representation in workers’ compensation matters. If you’ve been injured on the job and are seeking workers’ compensation benefits, please give us a call at (770) 727-5550 or chat live online with a member of our staff today.