Post-traumatic stress order (PTSD) is a psychological disorder and trauma-related condition that can develop after someone experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. This mental health condition requires professional treatment to manage its effects. Having PTSD can make it incredibly difficult for people to cope with daily functioning, whether it be in the personal or professional sphere.
Common symptoms of PTSD can include nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty concentrating, feeling emotionally numb or detached from others, and difficulty managing emotions. Receiving a PTSD or other mental health diagnosis as an employee can be a disorienting revelation, as many California workers worry about their ability to continue providing for their families while also navigating the debilitating symptoms of PTSD at home and in the workplace.
Fortunately, there are state and federal laws in place to protect employees struggling with certain mental health conditions. Are psychological disorders like PTSD covered by workers’ compensation? Keep reading to learn more about applying for workers’ comp with PTSD in California.
Applying for Workers’ Comp as a First Responder
For many workers, PTSD can make it difficult or even impossible to cope with the demands of daily living. Mental health conditions can have a detrimental impact on an individual’s emotional wellbeing and can negatively affect their health, financial security, and overall quality of life. While PTSD is commonly associated with military personnel, it’s especially prevalent within certain industries of employment.
First responders are especially impacted by PSTD. Types of occupations within this field include (but aren’t limited to):
- Police officers
- Parole officers
- Emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
Common Causes of PTSD in California Workplaces
While first responders are often impacted by PTSD more than other professions, there are various causes of PTSD in California workplaces. Workplace-induced trauma isn’t limited to life-threatening professions. Common examples of events that can lead to workplace PTSD include:
- Witnessing the tragic death or accident of a coworker
- Working excessive hours in stressful or dangerous environments
- Experiencing or witnessing racism, discrimination, abuse, or harassment
California Senate Bill 542
In 2019, the state of California passed Senate Bill 542. This bill created a “rebuttable presumption” that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in first responders is a work-related injury that is compensable under workers’ compensation. Essentially, this means that if an employee is diagnosed with PTSD, the disorder is presumed to have developed as a result of work-related duties and stressors.
While insurers and other entities have the right to challenge a workers’ comp claim for PTSD, they also shoulder the responsibility of proving that the employee’s condition was caused by non-work activities should they wish to challenge the claim.
What Must Workers Prove to Obtain Workers’ Comp for PTSD?
To successfully obtain workers’ comp benefits for PTSD, employees must comply with all legal guidelines meticulously. Before filing your claim, it’s best to consult with an experienced workers’ comp attorney who can guide your steps and hold your employer accountable for their duties under state workers’ compensation laws.
One of the most important factors in receiving workers’ comp benefits for PTSD is backing your claim with strong evidence, as this will have a direct impact on the outcome of your case. Your lawyer can advocate on your behalf and fight to secure the benefits you rightfully deserve by fortifying your case with sufficient evidence, such as:
- Medical records;
- Witness statements; and/or
- Any documentation that supports the link between PTSD and work.
To be eligible for workers' comp benefits, an employee must show that they developed the disorder due to repeated exposure to trauma in the workplace. In most cases, this can include situations like repeated exposure to violence or dangerous conditions while on duty, witnessing traumatic events while on duty, or direct involvement in a traumatic incident while on duty.
Furthermore, if there is evidence that certain workplace policies weren’t properly implemented to safety standards and other protocols, such as mental health support and other resources, this can also be taken into consideration when filing for workers' comp benefits.
Contact a Trusted Workers’ Comp Attorney in California
Our trusted workers’ comp attorneys at Alvandi Law Group have a longstanding reputation for bettering the lives of firefighters, law enforcement officials, and other first responders in California. We’re proud to serve employees and their families in a range of workers’ comp cases, from filing a claim to holding employers responsible for COVID-19 requirements and other protocols.
Whether you sustained a physical or psychological injury in the workplace, our compassionate team is here to fight for the compensation you deserve. We have extensive experience in a variety of workers’ comp matters and exclusively represent injured workers, making us the area’s trusted name for wronged employees. With over $300 million recovered on behalf of hardworking Californians, you can trust our powerhouse legal advocates to keep your best interests at heart.
As an injured worker, you deserve compensation for both physical and psychological damages. Call (800) 980-6905 to schedule a free consultation.