In recent years, more and more attention has been given to an “invisible” type of work-related injury (or condition) – the sort that is associated with workplace stress or some other work-related mental stimulus. These sorts of mental injuries, which may also be associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often have no physical manifestation at all. As such, they are unlike accidental work-related injuries on the one hand, or gradual, WEAR and TEAR injuries on the other. A mental injury can, however, be just as disabling as a physical one. Can a New Jersey employee recover workers’ compensation benefits for a mental injury claim? Often the answer is “yes!”
Two-Step Process of Proof is Required
As with virtually any workers’ compensation claim, an employee ordinarily must show that his or her injury – whether it is a physical injury, a mental injury, or a combination of the two – arose out of and in the course of employment. Both elements must be proved.
Arose Out of the Employment
Generally speaking, where the conditions of the employment are a contributing cause of the injury, the injury is said to “arise out of the employment.” The employee does not necessarily have to be actually engaged in work for the employer at the time of an accident for the disability to have arisen out of the employment. The injury or disorder must, however, issue from or be contributed to by conditions that bear some essential relation to the work or its nature.
In the Course of the Employment
An accident/injury occurs “in the course of employment” for workers’ compensation purposes when it occurs
- Within the period of the employment,
- At a place where the employee may reasonably be, and
- While he or she is reasonably fulfilling the duties of the employment, or at least doing something incidental thereto.
Attorneys sometimes refer to this part of the proof process as the “time and space” requirement, since generally compensable activities are limited to those that occur after arrival at, and before departure from, the workplace.
Multiple Types of Stimuli Can Cause Mental Injury
Employees sustain stress-related injuries and PTSD under a host of circumstances. Convenience store clerks, for example, may suffer severe mental strain after a store robbery in spite of the fact that they may have suffered no physical injury. Police officers and other first responders sometimes suffer mental injuries because of the stress that they find themselves in as they go about their jobs. Office workers may feel tremendous stress related to deadlines or increased workloads. During economic downturns, workers can be stressed, as well.
In most situations, employees claiming mental injury and/or PTSD must establish their conditions through expert medical evidence. Skilled legal counsel is also a must.
You Work Hard; Now Let Us Work Hard For You!
Have you experienced extreme stress in your work? Has your workplace experienced a robbery or other traumatic incident that has left you debilitated? While every stressful situation does not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you should consult an experienced attorney in order to understand your options. Mental injury claims are not always easy to establish, but at Petro Cohen, P.C., we have both the skill and experience to provide you with outstanding representation.
For many years now, we have helped many hard-working folks just like you. Call or contact Petro Cohen, P.C. for a free consultation. Talk with a hard-working New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyer to find out if you can recover money for your mental injuries. We can be reached by phone at 888-675-7607, or complete our online form. We look forward to discussing your situation with you.