Anyone who has spent much time in the workforce knows that sometimes, jobs can be stressful. However, when work stress begins to adversely affect your health, you may have a diagnosable psychological condition. If so, you could qualify for New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits.
At the law firm of Petro Cohen, P.C., we represent injured workers in all types of workers’ comp claims. We have more than a century of combined experience helping employees get the compensation they need and deserve after suffering psychological injuries at work.
Suing an Employer in New Jersey
After developing a mental health disorder related to your work, your first thought may be to sue your employer. However, suing an employer is quite rare. This is because the state’s workers’ compensation laws cover most work-related illnesses and injuries. And typically, if an employee qualifies for workers’ comp, they cannot “sue” their employer directly. Of course, this doesn’t mean that if you suffer psychological injuries at work you can’t obtain compensation. Instead, it means that you may need to file a workers’ compensation insurance claim rather than a personal injury claim.
And while it is rare to successfully sue your employer directly in a personal injury claim over mental health issues, it is possible. To do so, you must prove that your employer was more than negligent and that they maliciously or intentionally caused your injuries. For example, this would apply if your employer repeatedly and consistently berated you in front of co-workers to the point that you experienced a mental breakdown, fell into a depression, and could no longer work.
Pursuing a Workers’ Comp Claim Based on Psychological Injuries
Psychological injuries can be just as serious as physical injuries, if not more so. However, they most often do not result in any observable symptoms. This presents courts with a challenging situation when it comes to assessing the source and severity of a psychological injury. Typically, New Jersey courts use a three-part test to determine when an employee is entitled to workers’ compensation for psychological injuries related to their work.
Objectively Stressful Working Conditions
First, you must prove your working conditions would be stressful to the average person. So, the question isn’t just whether you found your job stressful, but whether an average person would think so. This means that courts would not consider an employee’s past experiences or particular sensitivities.
Stressful Conditions That Are Peculiar to the Job
Second, you need to show that your workplace imposed stressful conditions above and beyond those found in other workplaces. For example, you may not qualify for workers’ comp benefits even if your working conditions are objectively stressful if others in the same profession experience a similar level of stress.
Objective Evidence of a Psychological Disability
Third, you need to present evidence from a medical professional that you are suffering from a diagnosable disorder. This means you cannot rely on your own assessment of your condition or ability to work. You need to go to a doctor and get an expert medical opinion.
Finally, the court must find that the evidence of your condition is credible. In other words, the court needs to believe that your work—and not something else going on in your life—caused your psychological injuries.
When Are Benefits Not Available for Psychological Injuries?
There are a few situations where obtaining workers’ comp benefits for psychological injuries is not possible. One of these is if your disability stems from being laid off. While this can undoubtedly lead to mental health issues, courts routinely reject these claims.
Additionally, it is very challenging to obtain workers’ compensation benefits if your employment is only a contributing factor to your psychological injuries. Most often, this involves employees with pre-existing conditions that worsen due to the conditions of their employment. For example, if you were diagnosed with PTSD, applying for benefits after experiencing a triggering event while at work will be challenging.
An Attorney Can Help Advise You on Your Claim
While New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits are available to those who suffer psychological injuries related to their work, these claims are very challenging. Those who believe they may qualify for workers’ comp benefits based on psychological injuries should reach out to an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation law firm for immediate assistance. An attorney can candidly assess your claim so you can make the best decision for yourself and your family.
At Petro Cohen, P.C., our experienced and award-winning workers’ compensation team has successfully handled all kinds of work injury claims, including ones involving psychological injuries.
Regardless of how you were injured at work, you should be able to concentrate on your physical healing and well-being – not have to worry about your employer denying you the benefits you deserve. The New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers at Petro Cohen have the knowledge, skills, and proven ability to make workers’ compensation work for you. We solve problems. We get results.
Led by Frank Petro, Petro Cohen, P.C. has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ comp. The firm received the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell – the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials – in Professional Excellence and Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Along with Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, Daniel Rosenthal, and Sam Scimeca, our knowledgeable workers’ comp attorneys have successfully handled thousands of litigated workers’ comp cases throughout the state of New Jersey. This experience and winning track record means that you are going to have a skilled New Jersey work injury lawyer who will work for you.
As a valued client of our firm, you can expect legal excellence when our proven New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers handle your matter, regardless of the size of your case. We have four convenient office locations in southern New Jersey, including Northfield, Cape May, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, and are available 24/7 via the firm’s Web site: PetroCohen.com
For your free consultation with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys, call us today at 888-675-7607.