Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is gaining attention as a debilitating condition that is victimizing tens of thousands of individuals in the U.S. Workers in high-stress positions are susceptible to developing PTSD, which can greatly interfere with their day-to-day functioning. PTSD can occur in nearly any occupation, but some workers are more at risk than others. High-risk occupations include law enforcement officers, paramedics and EMTs, firefighters, military personnel, contact workers in war-torn or poverty-stricken areas, ER staff. With so many workers at risk of developing mental conditions related to workplace stress, it is worth asking—can workers’ compensation claims be filed for PTSD?
Unlike physical injuries, which commonly can be linked to a specific incident, mental health issues are typically caused by repeated exposure to traumatic experiences. First-responders, contact workers, military personnel, and other similar occupations respond to dangerous situations and emergencies on a near daily basis, and extended periods of heightened stress can weaken psychological and physical responses to stress, leaving these individuals at an increased risk of developing a mental disorder, such as PTSD.
While trauma is common is come occupations, there can be traumatic events in any occupation. Workplace violence, harassment, discrimination, and bullying can contribute to traumatic experiences. Those who have been subjected to trauma in the workplace are susceptible to PTSD as a result of their workplace or job.
Types of PTSD Claims
Workplace emotional distress can typically be separated into 3 categories:
- PTSD resulting from physical injuries sustained at work.
- Emotional injury only claims, when there is no physical injury linked to the mental trauma
- Emotional trauma that results in psychological and physical damage.
PTSD can have physical effects for many sufferers. These symptoms include:
- Heart attacks
- High blood pressure
- Chronic headaches or migraines
Common Symptoms of PTSD
Individuals will commonly have far different reactions to trauma, and the symptoms of PTSD often varies widely between people. There are many signs, and an injured worker may display a select few or many of these symptoms. A trained physician, psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist can recognize the symptoms of PTSD and begin treatment to mitigate the harm done by this condition.
Some of the most common signs of PTSD include:
- Hypomania, or periods of increased activity
- Intrusive memories or nightmares
- Intense distress when encountering memories or triggers
- Intense, physical manifestations of stress
- A lack of emotional response
- Depression, anxiety, and panic attacks
- General confusion
- Avoidance of activity or socializing
- Hypervigilance, or the inability to relax
- Violent outbursts or reactions to being startled
What is the Time Limit on Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim for PTSD?
In California, the statute of limitations for workers’ comp claims is 1 year from the date of injury. In cases involving mental health, it can be difficult to find a specific date that caused the injury, so California law assumes that the statute of limitations does not begin until:
- The date the employee first becomes disabled by their PTSD.
- The date the employee should have known of the disability.
Because a mental illness can be difficult to recognize, the statute of limitations may not start until a formal diagnosis has been made by a trained clinician.
Get Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Our workers’ compensation attorneys are familiar with the struggle that workers can face when trying to recover the benefits they deserve after an on-the-job injury. At the Law Offices of Andrew B. Shin, we are committed to helping workers receive the compensation they deserve for their injuries, both physical and emotional. We are well-equipped to take on any workers’ comp case, including emotional injuries. We know that these claims can be difficult to support, but our experienced team can help you document evidence to strengthen your claim.