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Specific Incident Needed to Collect Workers' Compensation for PTSD

Posted on in Workers' Compensation

Specific Incident Needed to Collect Workers' Compensation for PTSDIn 2014, an Illinois state arbitrator awarded workers’ compensation to an Illinois State Trooper as a result of his suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. What made the case unusual was the source of the PTSD was an allegedly abusive supervisor. The trooper claimed he was suffering mental and physical anguish because the supervisor had constantly berated him while he was under the supervisor’s command. However, the decision was later overturned during an appeal. Workplace stress can gradually degrade an employee’s mental health, but the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission is unlikely to recognize this as a reason to award compensation.

Specific Trauma

Illinois claimants can receive workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD if they can site an event that caused the trauma. An event usually involves the claimant:

  • Being the victim of a violent attack;
  • Suffering a severe injury at work; or
  • Witnessing a disturbing scene at work.

Police officers and firefighters are the most common workers to suffer from PTSD because their jobs can involve life-threatening situations. However, all workers can suffer PTSD if they are victims of or witnesses to events that lead to severe injury or death.

Proving PTSD

Being involved in a traumatic event is not enough to prove that a worker should receive compensation for PTSD. As with a physical injury, workers must show how their PTSD has affected them. Unfortunately, workers may be slow to identify that they have PTSD and to seek help from appropriate medical professionals. Even after diagnosis, it is difficult to prove PTSD to an arbitrator if the worker presents only subjective psychological evaluations. However, PTSD can cause more tangible symptoms in sufferers, such as:

  • Frequent nightmares;
  • Anxiety and depression;
  • Mood swings;
  • Memory loss;
  • Fatigue;
  • Heart complications;
  • Headaches; and
  • Digestive problems.

It is important for the claimant and medical practitioner to document these symptoms and when they started occurring to present as evidence during the case.

Dangers of PTSD

Mental impairment due to PTSD can prevent you from working in an effective or safe capacity. The symptoms of PTSD can make you physically weaker and mentally distracted, which may be dangerous in high-risk occupations. Treating PTSD can be expensive because it often requires seeing a mental health professional and taking time off work. However, your employer may be uncooperative in accommodating you because it cannot see any physical injuries. A McHenry County workers’ compensation attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you prove that you need compensation due to your PTSD. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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