When Are Mental Illnesses Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation benefits are generally available for injuries that arise out of the course of employment. While most work-related injuries include physical injuries – such as back injuries, repetitive stress injuries, and nerve damage – workers’ compensation benefits may also be available for mental and psychological injuries, as well.
An Illinois appeals court recently confirmed that an employee may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for psychological injuries sustained as a result of a serious work-related accident. In Chicago Transit Authority v. Timms, IWCC, 21 ILWCLB 37 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st 2013), a bus driver operating a CTA bus struck and killed a passenger who had just exited the bus through the front door. Shortly thereafter, the driver was discharged from employment and she eventually sought psychological care for mental injuries sustained as a result of the accident.
The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission (IWCC) confirmed that employees are entitled to workers’ compensation for mental injuries when the injured worker suffers a sudden, severe emotional stock that is traceable to a specific time, place and cause. Accordingly, the bus driver was awarded workers’ compensation benefits for her psychological injuries – a decision that was subsequently affirmed by a circuit court.
The Illinois Appellate Court confirmed that the emotional shock needs to be sudden, but the resulting psychological injury does not need to be sudden. In fact, emotional injuries that do not manifest themselves until a period of time after the incident may still be compensable. Accordingly, the fact that the injured worker did not seek treatment for her mental injuries for an extended period of time after the work-related accident did not preclude workers’ compensation benefits. Any delay in psychological treatment is, nonetheless, relevant to the claim.
Because work-related psychological injuries can be difficult to prove, with unique challenges, it is recommended that you enlist the help of an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer. Donald W. Fohrman & Associates, Ltd. is one of the leading Illinois workers’ compensation law firms, securing millions of dollars in worker’s compensation benefits for injured workers. Because of our extensive experience we are able to successfully guide employees suffering from work-related injuries – including physical and psychological injuries – through the process of obtaining worker’s compensation benefits.
Whatever your workplace injury, the Chicago workplace injury attorneys at Donald W. Fohrman & Associates are prepared to vigorously fight to get you the medical attention and financial compensation that you deserve. Contact our office at (800) 437-2571 to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Chicago workplace accident attorneys.