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Are benefits available for workers who suffer a "mental injury"?

From neck injuries to broken bones, it can be fairly obvious when a worker gets hurt. In many situations, identifying the injury as well as the accident that caused the injury requires a simple investigation into the incident. But for some workers, the injury isn't as apparent.

For some individuals, a work environment may cause some sort of illness. Whether a mental illness or an occupational illness, these can affect a worker's ability to do his or her job. But are these types of injuries ones covered by workers' compensation in Colorado? Should they be considered injuries for benefits?

When it comes to occupational diseases, such as carpal tunnel or chronic pain, a suffering worker can claim workers' compensation. In previous posts we've emphasized the benefit of speaking with a attorney and here is why: when it comes to occupational diseases, insurance carriers in Colorado are more likely to assume that the job did not cause the disease. Keeping an accurate record of the progression of the disease and providing that information to an attorney can help you obtain those benefits.

But pinpointing the source of a "mental injury" is more difficult. To get workers' compensation, the injury or illness needs to have been caused while on-the-job as a result of that job. A worker knows firsthand if his or her job is causing stress, depression, anxiety or even PTSD. But the challenge is to isolate the cause of that mental strain as being from a job or work environment.

For some, a mental injury such as depression or anxiety can be just as crippling as a broken foot. If it's caused by one's work environment, employees should be able to claim benefits. However the claims process will likely be more challenging than other workers' comp claims.

  Source: Occupational Health & Safety, "Can Workplace Stress Cause a 'Mental Injury'?" Oct. 12, 2013.

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Eley Law Firm
2000 S. Colorado Blvd. No. 2-740
Denver, CO 80222

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