Florida Workers’ Compensation: Understanding Emotional Injuries
If you are involved in a traumatic accident at work, workers’ compensation is intended to provide rapid delivery of medical services to address your injury and quicken your return to work.
But what if the traumatic incident caused horrific injury to a co-worker? While you were traumatized, you are physically unhurt. You may experience irrational fear that leaves you unable to perform the work you did before. Or what if injury on the job left you unable to work and you became depressed, nervous or anxious? Are you covered?
In most cases, under Florida law, workers’ compensation benefits are not available for nervous or mental conditions. Emotional injury and resulting wage loss are not considered compensable in Florida. In severe cases, such as disfigurement, a claim for psychological or psychiatric care can be advanced for consideration.
The difficulties for individuals suffering conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after an accident or fearful event are becoming better known. PTSD and anxiety-related disorders can sidetrack a bright career and a productive life. However, Florida infrequently provides compensation or medical assistance to those who suffer injury other than a diagnosed physical illness or trauma.
In order to receive compensation for mental or nervous injury in Florida, the following conditions must be met:
- The claim is documented through evaluation by a licensed psychiatrist.
- Assessment of your condition finds clear and convincing evidence of the presence of the symptoms considered a direct manifestation of your underlying physical injury. Clear and convincing evidence is a high standard of legal proof.
- The mental or nervous condition must be defined under the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association.
- The underlying physical injury must be the major contributing cause of the emotional condition and be at least 50 percent responsible for your nervous or mental condition.
Documenting medical evidence of a psychological condition is not easy without an associated physical injury. If suffering an emotional or psychological injury, speak with legal counsel experienced with workers’ compensation. Injury is sometimes more than skin deep.