Can I Get Virginia Workers’ Compensation Benefits for PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health condition resulting from a terrifying, shocking, or dangerous event.
This can affect people in different ways and can happen to anyone, at any stage of life.
If you’ve experienced a traumatic event on the job, workers’ compensation benefits may offer coverage to help in your recovery.
A reputable workers’ compensation lawyer can help claimants determine if their case is covered and if it is, get them the compensation they deserve.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is initiated when a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. They then continue to “relive” this event after it happens. Sometimes PTSD can last for years, or appear years after the initial event happened.
Examples of situations that commonly cause PTSD include:
- Military combat
- Car accidents
- Natural disasters
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Hazardous or violent workplaces
Symptoms of PTSD can be debilitating and may include flashbacks, nightmares, aggressive behavior, and severe anxiety.
Workers suffering from work-related PTSD may be at risk of ongoing physical injuries and mental trauma.
When PTSD interferes with everyday life, it usually requires rigorous treatment, which means that people must take time off work to recover properly.
Can I Get Workers’ Comp for PTSD in Virginia?
Virginia has very specific requirements for people suffering from PTSD who are looking to claim workers’ compensation benefits. For many workers, filing for workers’ comp can be an uphill battle.
Not all work environments and/or situations are covered.
Below are the steps that should be followed when filing for workers’ comp based on PTSD:
- The worker should inform their employee about the injury within 30 days after it occurred.
- Within 2 years of the event or accident that caused the injury, the worker must file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
- The worker should seek and document all medical treatment.
How can I prove my claim for benefits for PTSD?
At times, it can be difficult to “prove” PTSD, given its nature as a mostly psychological illness. The claimant must show that:
1) The PTSD was a result of a work-related physical injury
Benefits may be awarded if the claimant is able to prove that they developed PTSD after suffering from a physical injury due to a work-related accident. Injuries like rotator cuff tears, herniated discs, or back injuries can limit the worker’s ability to return to their normal work routine.
2) The PTSD resulted from a sudden fright or shock at work
The claimant may be awarded benefits if they can prove that their PTSD was the result of a specific event at work that shocked or frightened them. This event should be something that is out of the ordinary and not expected while they’re performing their duties.
3) The PTSD developed over time due to a series of work-related traumatic experiences
To receive benefits, the claimant must prove the following:
- There’s a direct causal relationship between the development of PTSD and the work conditions
- The claimant was exposed to multiple traumatic events
- These traumatic events were the primary cause of the PTSD
- There are no other non-work-related events that caused the PTSD
4) The case is covered by the special rules for firefighters and police officers
Certain types of jobs are inherently dangerous. For instance, firefighters and police officers are more likely to witness or go through frightening or violent events. A law recently passed allowing firefighters and police officers who developed PTSD while acting in the line of duty to receive workers’ comp benefits in the state.
Call Us To Get Help Claiming Your Virginia Workers’ Compensation Benefits
PTSD can disrupt a person’s ability to function and perform their usual routine. Workers who develop this condition often have a very difficult time claiming workers’ comp benefits from the state.
A good Virginia workers’ comp lawyer can help explain the intricacies of the law and help you understand your options.
Slominski Law is committed to protecting our clients’ interests in Virginia and making sure that they receive the compensation they deserve. If you need help claiming your benefits, contact us at (434) 384-9400 or (540) 554-3762.