Workers Compensation for PTSD

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Workers’ compensation is generally available to every employee in the state of California. The workers’ comp system is considered to be “no-fault,” meaning that an injured worker can recover compensation regardless of the cause of the incident. However, the effects of many work injuries may not necessarily be visible. For example, it is not uncommon for an injured worker to suffer from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Here, we want to discuss whether or not a work injury victim can recover compensation for PTSD through the workers’ compensation system in California. 

First responders and PTSD workers’ compensation 

In 2019, the California assembly passed a law that was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom which contained a presumption for first responders who have developed PTSD as a result of their jobs. Specifically, this new law creates “a rebuttable presumption that a worker’s mental health struggles are an occupational injury, which could qualify them for paid time off to recover,” according to the Sacramento Bee

This law recognizes that first responders such as police officers, firefighters, and other emergency personnel are regularly placed into situations that could result in danger or hazardous exposure. As of January 1, 2020, California law presumes that the PTSD of a first responder shall be have arisen out of and in the course of their employment. Those who qualify should be awarded full compensation for the PTSD, including medical care and disability indemnity. 

What about other jobs?

As of this writing, California law only offers a PTSD rebuttal presumption for first responders. This means that it is unlikely for those who work in other industries to be able to recover compensation for PTSD that arises out of an in the course of their employment. 

However, this does not necessarily mean that an employee will receive no compensation at all if they sustain PTSD due to the workplace. It may be possible for an employee to recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit filed against a grossly negligent employer or a third party who may hold responsibility for the conditions that caused the PTSD. 

What if you suspect you have work-related PTSD?

If you suspect that you have PTSD related to the workplace, please seek medical care as soon as possible. Recovering workers’ compensation or successfully recovering damages through a personal injury lawsuit will require proving the injury. Proving PTSD can be more challenging than proving other types of visibly traumatic injuries. However, this does not make the injury any less real for the victim. It is crucial that you have medical documentation of your PTSD as you move forward with pursuing compensation. 

Contact a work injury attorney as soon as possible 

If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury in the workplace and have subsequently suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), please speak to a Long Beach workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. When you work with an attorney with your case, you will be gaining an advocate who can assist you with recovering compensation for every work injury you have sustained. This includes any physical injuries as well as non-physical injuries such as PTSD. An attorney can work closely with medical experts to ensure that you are properly evaluated and that the full scope of your injuries is described to the insurance carriers or workers’ compensation appeals board.