Can I Receive Workers’ Comp Benefits for Emotional or Mental Conditions?
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Can I Receive Workers’ Comp Benefits for Emotional or Mental Conditions?

Unfortunately, work can cause employees to suffer stress, emotional problems, depression, anxiety, and other mental conditions. In Minnesota, certain mental injuries give rise to a workers’ compensation claim if the affected worker can show that the injury happened at work.

In general, emotional and mental conditions leading to workers’ compensation claims develop in one of three ways:

  • Physical injury produces mental injury
  • Mental conditions produce physical injury
  • Mental conditions produce mental injury

Minnesota workers’ compensation laws allow workers to recover for the first two categories but usually not the third, except for PTSD claims.

As to the first category, you may receive benefits if you are diagnosed with a mental condition that, in your doctor’s opinion, was substantially caused by a work-related physical injury. There is no requirement that the physical injury be particularly severe or traumatizing. Nor does the physical injury have to be the sole cause of the mental condition; it only needs to be a substantial contributing factor. An example might be a worker who was previously healthy but suffers a back injury at work and develops major depressive disorder as a result.

As to the second category, Minnesota law allows you to receive benefits if work-related mental stress or other mental conditions lead to a physical injury. Again, the mental condition does not have to be the sole cause of the physical injury, only a substantial contributing factor. Workers must show that (1) the mental stress resulted in the physical injury, and (2) the stress was extreme and beyond the normal day-to-day stresses of working life. The law recognizes that stress can build over time. An example could be a worker who witnesses traumatizing injuries to a coworker, leading to stress, and who later develops migraine headaches from clenching his jaw.

As to the third category, the only compensable injury from mental conditions causing mental injury is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Workers may develop PTSD arising out of their employment if they witness an accident, get hurt in an accident, or work in a field such as emergency room care. If you believe you have PTSD, you need to receive an official diagnosis from a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist in order to be eligible for benefits. PTSD is not compensable if it arises from normal employment events performed in good faith by an employer such as terminations, demotions, performance reviews, and the like.

Need help getting workers’ compensation for a mental condition? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.