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Receiving Workers’ Compensation for Mental Trauma

Posted on in Workers' Compensation

Receiving Workers’ Compensation for Mental TraumaThe injuries you receive at work can go beyond what can be physically diagnosed. Sometimes, an incident at work can be traumatic enough that it causes a mental disorder, such as depression or anxiety. A mental health professional can diagnose your mental disorder and state whether the work incident likely caused the disorder. Illinois law allows you to receive workers’ compensation benefits if you can prove the correlation between the work incident and your mental health. You can use a “mental-physical” claim or “mental-mental” claim.


A mental-physical claim is when a physical incident at work caused trauma that led to your mental condition. This can easily happen when you suffer a traumatic injury in the process of your normal work duties. A factory worker who was severely injured while using machinery may feel anxious about returning to work. The worker could be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder if he or she suffers panic attacks due to that anxiety.

Seemingly minor injuries can also create mental trauma depending on the nature of the incident. For instance, someone sexually assaulted by a supervisor may suffer bruises that do not require medical treatment. However, being assaulted at work is traumatic and would understandably cause the victim anxiety about returning to the workplace. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has awarded benefits in such a scenario.


In a mental-mental claim, the affected employee was not injured or physically involved in the incident. However, witnessing the incident was so traumatic that the employee developed a mental health disorder. To prove a mental-mental claim, the employee must show that the work incident was:

  • Objectively traumatic;
  • Unusually stressful compared to the employee’s normal work; and
  • The primary cause of the mental disorder.

Stress caused by a verbally abusive supervisor would not qualify you for workers’ compensation unless the conduct objectively caused you to fear for your safety. An EMT who normally works with injured people would have a difficult time claiming that seeing a victim caused PTSD. You need to identify a specific incident or incidents and explain how it traumatized you enough that you had a mental breakdown.

Contact a Crystal Lake Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Employers and insurance companies are already skeptical about any workers’ compensation claim that you file. They will likely contest a claim for mental health compensation because they cannot see the damage. A McHenry County workers’ compensation attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can explain how a workplace incident damaged your mental wellbeing. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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