Oct 22, 2018
Do Mental Injuries Qualify for Workers’ Compensation in Georgia?
Our understanding of “injury’ has expanded over the past century. While traditionally thought of as a physical problem, such as a wound, chronic ache, or disease—people are now realizing that injury can take mental forms as well. As such, more people are wondering about the relationship between workers’ compensation and mental health treatments.
In Georgia, mental injuries are covered by workers’ compensation, but only when they arise as a direct result for a physical injury that occurred at work.
To learn more about your rights to workers’ comp for a mental injury, contact our knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta at (770) 741-2825.
While some states allow workers to file for workers’ compensation purely for psychological injuries, Georgia is not one of them. There is much debate regarding this topic, with many insurance companies asserting that it’s impossible to prove that stress, anxiety, and depression can be a direct result of work alone. While there is much pushback on this from various groups, Georgia lawmakers have decided to split the difference and mandate that workers’ comp only needs to cover “superadded” mental injuries.
Superadded injuries are injuries that occur as a result of another injury. They do not always appear directly after the original injury occurred, meaning claims can be made weeks or months after the accident.
Mental Injuries That Result From Physical Injuries
There is a proven correlation between physical injuries and many psychological issues. We do not usually think about the possibility of getting injured on a day-to-day basis, so when an accident does occur, it can have a significant impact on our confidence and stress. Not only does the pain itself cause mental anguish, particularly if the accident results in a disability, but the reminder that accidents can happen to anyone at any time often results in symptoms of depression and PTSD.
Some common psychological injuries that occur after an accident include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Excessive stress
- Panic attacks
- Addiction to drugs and/or alcohol
Preexisting Mental Conditions
What happens if you have a previous mental health condition that is made worse by an accident? In Georgia, preexisting medical conditions that are aggravated by a physical injury at work are covered in workers’ compensation. This includes mental conditions such as an anxiety disorder or depression.
You will need to prove that your preexisting condition was made worse as a direct result of the injury. It is recommended you speak with a mental health professional before filing your claim so that you have a tangible record of care to bring up with the insurance company. It may be easier to file a claim if there is a significant gap between the last time you received mental health treatment and the accident. This can demonstrate a clearer correlation between the accident and the resurgence of the symptoms.
Fighting a Rejection
Workers’ compensation companies are already reluctant to pay claims for physical injuries. They will typically fight even harder against claims involving psychological injuries. You can fight back by documenting your mental health care and making sure your doctor maintains their own records. You should then contact a skilled workers’ comp attorney to back up your claim. In many situations, just having an attorney contact the insurance company is enough to get them to take your claim seriously.
Contact the Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC at (770) 741-2825 to schedule a meeting with our experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Atlanta.