Tried And True Attorneys Standing Up For The Injured Since 1965

Photo of Craig R. Fishman
Photo of Craig R. Fishman

Tried And True Attorneys Standing Up For The Injured Since 1965

Post-traumatic stress disorder and first responders

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

When we, as a society, talk about workplace injuries, we often think about physical harm caused by a workplace accident. While those certainly make up the bulk of the workers’ compensation claims that are filed, that’s certainly not the limit of the workers’ compensation system. In fact, under New Jersey law, psychological conditions can also be covered so long as you can relate the condition to a workplace incident.

This is significant given that many workplace accidents create resulting trauma. This trauma, in turn, can lead to significant mental harm, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. For example, if a delivery driver is involved in a serious accident while on the job, they might experience crushing anxiety and stress related to driving. They can have flashbacks of the accident, too, negatively impacting their ability to live a normal life and return to work.

Similarly, first responders can be exposed to hazards on a daily basis that create an enormous amount of stress that, over time, takes a toll and leads to the diagnosis of a mental health condition. These situations may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Showing that your post-traumatic stress disorder qualifies for workers’ compensation

Demonstrating that a psychological condition like PTSD qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits isn’t easy, but it may be possible in your case. To succeed, you have to demonstrate that you developed the condition subsequent to a shocking and traumatic event that occurred while you were on the clock at your place of employment or while you were otherwise fulfilling your job duties.

It’s important to note that the stress you were exposed to at work must be more than the daily stressors of the job experienced by other workers. Merely a bad day at work or being justifiably criticized by your supervisor probably isn’t going to be sufficient to prove your claim.

That said, depending on the nature of your job you may be able to successfully show that there’s been a gradual accumulation of on-the-job stress that led to your condition. If you can demonstrate that the stress you’ve experienced is specific to your line of work, you might be in a strong position to secure benefits for a PTSD diagnosis alone without any other type of physical injury.

Proving your PTSD-related workers’ compensation case

You’re going to need evidence to prove your workers’ compensation case. Therefore, it’s a good idea to do the following:

  • Obtain a formal diagnosis from your medical professional
  • Document the job-related stress to which you’ve been exposed
  • Document any symptoms of PTSD
  • Gather reports and recordings related to your workplace accident
  • Secure witnesses who can testify as to your workplace accident, your stressful working conditions and your medical condition
  • Articulate how your condition limits your ability to do your job
  • Demonstrate how PTSD negatively impacts your ability to function on a daily basis

Depending on the specific facts of your case, there may be other ways to prove your claim. Make sure you’re comprehensive in gathering the evidence you need to support your position.

Fight for the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve

It’s easy to try to suppress the psychological harm that’s been caused to you by your job. Resist that urge. Instead, if you feel like something is off, seek medical attention so that you can obtain a clear diagnosis. Once you have that, think through how it impacts your job and how your job may have impacted your condition.

Once you’ve done that, you can start to build the framework of your workers’ compensation claim. If you aggressively advocate for the benefits that you deserve, then you might be able to secure the treatment and stability needed while you focus on treating your condition.