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Can You Get Worker's Compensation For Mental Illnesses In New York?

While workers in most dangerous occupations are aware of the risk of being injured on the job, many people may not consider the possibility of developing a debilitating mental illness because of your job duties. It’s not uncommon for people to suffer mental trauma after a workplace accident, and in some cases, this can occur even for witnesses who weren’t physically injured. When severe enough, mental health problems can affect your ability to do your job just as much as a physical injury can.

In New York, mental health problems are eligible for workers’ compensation, but there are specific requirements. Applying for and receiving your benefits can be challenging, and is often much more difficult than a claim for a physical injury.

Requirements For A Mental Health Claim

In order for a mental illness or psychological injury to qualify for workers’ comp, you must prove that the condition is directly related to your work environment. This requires gathering evidence, such as reports from a doctor approved by the workers’ compensation board and testimony from co-workers. Examples of cases which may qualify for workers’ comp include:

  • Suffering psychological trauma after being physically injured in a workplace accident
  • Developing an anxiety or stress disorder after witnessing a traumatic workplace accident (such as a lost limb, amputation, or death)
  • Slowly developing a mental disorder due to cumulative work-related psychological stress

See our workers comp lawyer page to learn more about what types of workplace accidents are common in New York. 

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You Must Prove Excessive Stress

In order to qualify, you must prove that your mental health problem was the result of an unreasonable and unexpected level of stress for your occupation. If the Workers’ Compensation Board determines that the cause of your psychological injury was reasonably foreseeable for someone in your position, you may not qualify for compensation.

New York’s Workers’ Compensation Law also specifies that a mental injury may not be eligible for benefits if it occurred due to a lawful personnel decision, such as a disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, demotion, or termination – as long as the action was taken in “good faith” by the employer.

How Do I Know If I Qualify For Workers' Comp?

If you’re suffering from a mental health problem or psychological trauma and think it’s related to your job, you should try to meet with a mental health professional as soon as possible and discuss your concerns with them. A qualified professional can make a diagnosis and work with you to determine if your disorder is a direct result of something that happened at work.

As we’ve mentioned above, providing the appropriate evidence and establishing your mental injury as work-related can be exceedingly difficult. Workers’ comp claims for mental health issues are extremely complex and heavily dependent on very specific circumstances. In order to determine if you have a valid claim, it’s often necessary to discuss your situation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.

How Can A NY Work Injury Lawyer Help?

Remember that when filing a workers comp claim, you’ll be dealing with powerful insurance companies who have their own skilled workers’ compensation lawyers. These lawyers can make it difficult to secure compensation even for physical workplace injuries, and psychological ones are even more difficult. However, having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer by your side greatly increases your chances of success.

A resourceful lawyer can help you win your claim in the following ways:

  • Help you seek mental health treatment and provide appropriate medical evidence
  • Gather testimony from your co-workers or witnesses to your incident
  • Help you file the appropriate paperwork by deadlines
  • Negotiate with your employer’s insurance carrier on your behalf
  • Conduct legal research and cite previous cases as legal precedence for your claim
  • Represent you in court

To better explore your options, contact Banville Law today for a free consultation. We’ll review your case and will only ask for payment after we’ve helped you secure financial compensation.

Up next: Can I Get Workers’ Compensation For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?


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