Workers’ compensation is designed to alleviate the financial and medical burdens a worker can face when they’re injured on the job — but not all injuries are treated alike.
Even though workplace stress is a major factor for some employees, mental health conditions caused by that stress are often not considered eligible for workers’ compensation in Oklahoma — with some exceptions. Here’s what you need to know.
Typically, mental health conditions that arise out of a worker’s ordinary course of employment are not eligible for compensation unless accompanied by a physical injury. Essentially, the law takes the approach that stress is just a byproduct of some types of employment. In other words, if your job stress causes you depression, severe anxiety or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you cannot obtain benefits unless you also suffered some kind of physical harm, as well.
However, the law does allow a worker who was the victim of a crime of violence to claim benefits. That can open the door to benefits in a number of situations, including those where the actual physical injury suffered isn’t that severe.
For example, if an angry customer or client loses their cool and punches you at work, that’s a crime of violence. If you subsequently develop severe anxiety that prevents you from working, that would entitle you to workers’ compensation benefits. The injury from the punch may not be sufficient to keep you from working, but the resulting emotional trauma and disability can be.
If you’re suffering from a mental health condition that stems from an incident at work, don’t assume that you aren’t eligible for compensation. Talk to an experienced attorney, first.