Worker's Compensation: Stress Related Injury

Accidents can happen anywhere, including at work. Thanks to workers compensation, employees are able to get the financial compensation they need after an accident in order to recover in peace. However sometimes the injuries you receive at work aren't from an accident, but rather from minor harm that occurs over a long period of time.

Basically, you can be injured simply from the physical or mental stress of your job.

Physical Stress Injuries

Physical stress injuries tend to be fairly easy to identify. For example, an administrative assistant assistant suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome due to typing or a warehouse stocker suffering from chronic back pain. In all of these examples, an employee performs an activity at work over a period of time and ends up suffering from a physical problem as a result.

So what can you do in this kind of situation?

You typically can not file a lawsuit against your employer, but the workers' compensation system does provide a remedy to the situation.

Under the worker's compensation system, you are entitled to a portion of your average earnings while you are out of work to receive treatment due to the injury. In order to receive these benefits, you must make an incident report to your human resources department or to your company's insurance carrier and workers' compensation claims process started as soon as possible.

Typically you must seek medical attention in order to determine whether the injury is work related or not. As part of the claim, you may also be required to undergo an Independent Medical Examination by a doctor of the workers' compensation insurer's choice. While the exam is deemed “independent” is usually quite the opposite. You may want to contact an attorney before doing such an exam just to stay on the safe side of things.

Mental Stress Injuries

Mental injuries can be a little more complicated. If the conduct that caused your stress is egregious and is not covered by workers' compensation, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit for negligent infliction of emotional distress or even intentional infliction of emotional distress. In these situation, you'll need to be able to prove that some outlandish conduct on the part of your employer or co-worker occurred.

So what can you do if your suffering from emotional stress at work?

Firstly, you need to tell someone about it. Talk to your superiors and, if necessary, make a formal report. Having documentation will become an important part of your employment file and may be a useful piece of evidence for later on. If your company has specific rules about how claims are reported, make sure to follow them.

It may even be helpful to confide in a trusted co-worker and have them make notes about the events they have personally observed. This way, if necessary, you have witnesses handy. Lastly, you should keep a journal and write down dates and events as they happen. Make sure to include who was present at the time, what exactly was said, and how you choose to handle the situation. The more details you can include, the better.