Stress and Workers’ Compensation Claim
Author: Joseph A. Moro
While most people will agree that a certain amount of workplace stress is normal and can even be a positive motivator, excessive and unending stress can hurt your professional performance and your personal life. If left unchecked, stress can impact your health both physically and emotionally and leave you feeling helpless and out of control.
What happens when stress causes lasting damage to your professional life and prevents you from being able to work? While most on-the-job injuries allow for employees to file a workers’ compensation claim, most employers’ workers’ compensation coverage may reject such claims outright, or will only allow for stress and anxiety claims under certain, particular circumstances.
According to the Ohio State Bar, the workers’ compensation statute does not consider psychiatric conditions to be an injury unless “the condition has arisen from an injury or occupational disease.” What this means is that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) will typically not recognize claims related to stress and anxiety that arise due to accumulated stress over time and will instead identify disorders that arise from singular, traumatic events that are easier to prove measurable psychological damage.
An example of an event that has a direct psychological impact might be a bank employee who was held at gunpoint during a robbery and experienced anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the incident. Traumatic events at the workplace, like an assault or serious injury accident, may sustain the burden of proof needed to demonstrate lasting psychological effects. This is often called a “flow-through condition” or “secondary condition” which means an original injury (in this case, assault) caused a different condition (the anxiety and PTSD) that may be allowed after diagnosis by a medical professional.
Unfortunately, for many people, the everyday demands of the workplace, from tight deadlines to demanding superiors can add up over time and may have visible effects on your performance at work and your life at home. What many people do not understand is the difference between short-term stress and long-term stress, and how each can affect your life.
Short-term stress (for example, an imposing deadline to land a new client or a demanding life-event like moving to a new home) is often easier for most people to deal with. Large projects can be managed, and by putting in extra hours, you may be able to deliver it on time. While it can be stressful, moving has a definitive end-date, and once you are in your new home, you can relax and enjoy your new surroundings without lasting effects.
Long-term stress, also known as chronic stress, is much harder to deal with and often results in serious problems if it is not dealt with in a healthy manner. Chronic stress can have very severe mental effects like anxiety and depression, as well as physical effects on one’s health. Some common physical symptoms of chronic stress include:
- Cardiovascular conditions – elevated blood pressure and stress hormones can lead to inflammation in the circulatory system, and may cause a stroke, heart attack, or hypertension.
- Musculoskeletal conditions – stress can cause the muscles of the body to tense up, leading to migraines and tension headaches.
- Respiratory conditions – individuals who suffer from chronic stress often report breathing problems similar to asthma and hyperventilation, which can trigger panic attacks in certain people.
- Gastrointestinal problems – Chronic stress can lead to stomach problems like heartburn, ulcers, and bowel problems.
- Reproductive system problems – Long-term stress has shown noticeable effects for both male and female reproductive systems. Individuals may experience performance anxiety, lack of desire, lowered testosterone function, and other gender-specific problems.
For individuals who are suffering from chronic stress, it is essential to seek professional help to deal with the issues in their life (whether they are professional or personal) to maintain a healthy mental and physical balance. A mental health professional can help counsel you to identify the stress factors in your life, set healthy boundaries, and give you tips on how to cope with stressful situations.
While many people find comfort and helpful solutions through counseling, therapy, and other mental health services that focus on eliminating stress in one’ life, the financial costs of such treatment do not always have to be shouldered by the individual alone. As we discussed earlier, Ohio workers’ compensation statutes do allow for certain workers to file a workers’ compensation claim if their anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder can be considered a flow-through from an injury at work.
Because this flow-through determination must be made before a workers’ compensation claim will be approved, it is important for you to hire a qualified and experienced legal team to assist you with your application. Far too many workers “roll the dice” and hope that their claims will be approved, or that their employer’s insurance company will accept their claim in good faith. Why leave your compensation claim to chance? By hiring an attorney who understands the specific requirements in Ohio and who knows what evidence must be presented to demonstrate a strong workers’ compensation claim, you may be able to secure the compensation you are owed to pay for lost wages from time off of work, medical bills, and other expenses.
It is important to hire an experienced legal team like Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill, Co., LPA. to help with your stress-related workers’ compensation claim. You need a team on your side that understands the unique challenges workers in Ohio face and a team that knows how the system works. Since 1985, we have helped individuals in Ohio obtain the workers’ compensation benefits they are owed, and we are ready to assist you if you are dealing with stress and anxiety caused by work. Contact us at (330) 792-6611 or fill out the form on our website to get started with your free case evaluation.