Psychological injuries can be just as traumatizing as physical ones, especially when they are so severe that you cannot eat or sleep. Over time, physical illness can set in. Does this mean that you can collect worker’s compensation for mental stress allegedly experienced on the job? In New York it’s certainly possible, but the success of your claim will depend on the type of stress you suffered.
What injuries qualify?
Mental injuries that are potentially compensable include emotional stress due to:
- Threats made by bosses, co-workers, or clients / customers of the employer
- Witnessing a traumatic event at work, such as a shooting or suicide
- Workplace harassment due to a protected category such as gender, age, race or religion
- An occupational disease or workplace injury
Workers’ compensation benefits only come into play if and only if you experience an unusual amount of stress at your job. You would have prove that you were under greater emotional pressure than your coworkers usually face. Although stress does not have to be the sole cause of the injury, it must be a substantial contributing factor.
Under Section 2(7) of the New York Workers’ Compensation Law, you may not claim benefits for mental injuries that result from a legal personnel decision taken in good faith, such as:
- A negative performance evaluation
- Disciplinary action
- Job transfer
For example, if your boss asks you to work more hours to compensate for a chronically late co-worker and you file a workers’ compensation claim for any resulting mental stress, then it may not be approved, as it is not unusual for employees to work longer hours to compensate for someone else’s tardiness or absence.
The courts do, however, regard certain actions on the part of the employer and a claimant’s co-workers as unacceptable. If you are subjected to illegal and reprehensible actions such as sexual harassment and racial discrimination and the employer does nothing about it, then your stress claim will very likely be compensable.
Mental stress claims are difficult to sustain under the New York workers’ compensation law, especially if they arise from allegations of a bad-tempered supervisor, increased workload, or disagreements with colleagues, as the board tends to regard such scenarios as part and parcel of a typical work environment. This is where experienced legal counsel can help.
If you have suffered extreme workplace-related stress and required medical treatment as a result, then contact a New York personal injury attorney with experience in workers’ compensation claims. In many cases, documenting the events that resulted in a mental injury is challenging, and proving that the resulting injury is disabling enough to impact your ability to work could be even more difficult. Your attorney can advise you of your rights and help you pursue any compensation that you may be entitled to. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY lawyer who works with victims of accidents and offers free in-person consultations. Accident cases are handled on a contingency basis meaning that there are no fees unless you are awarded a settlement. Call 718-514-6619 if you were injured or visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com.