If you’re dealing with severe anxiety or depression due to your job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Colorado. However, navigating the claims process can be difficult. Not all mental stress or psychological harm related to your job entitles you to work comp benefits. If the stress arises from exacerbating workplace conditions–such as harassment, discrimination, or abuse–the worker could recover benefits through a Colorado workers’ compensation claim. This article will cover the qualifications for workers’ comp for mental stress and how to prove your claim, as well as the benefits available if your claim is accepted.
Qualifications for Workers’ Comp for Mental Stress
Under Colorado law, employees who are covered by workers’ compensation can file claims for mental stress under certain circumstances. These may include witnessing a death, repeatedly witnessing serious bodily injuries, unreasonable travel demands or sales quotas, and harassment or discrimination.
However, the claim cannot be based on circumstances that are common to all fields of employment, and must be severe enough to render the employee temporarily or permanently unable to work or to require medical or psychological treatment.
There are two types of mental stress claims: stand-alone mental injury and mental injury with physical injury. The former is a psychologically traumatic event that is not standard to the worker’s typical experience and would cause significant mental stress or emotional distress in the average worker under similar circumstances. The latter involves a claim for mental stress connected to a bodily injury or illness, and is typically easier to win.
Proving a Mental Stress Workers’ Comp Claim
To recover workers’ compensation in Colorado for a nonphysical injury, you must provide evidence to support your claim. The mental stress generally must result in severe anxiety or depression that causes long term harm to your mental health. A serious psychological condition typically requires mental health therapy or counseling. Records or testimony of a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist must prove a mental impairment caused by the workplace. It’s important to see a licensed therapist or psychiatrist for your work-related mental stress to receive an official diagnosis and seek treatment to cure or manage the impairment. This can serve as evidence for your workers’ comp claim.
You must also prove that the mental stress or impairment you are claiming arose out of and in the course of employment. In general, it must have stemmed from something that is not standard to your job or a typical day at work. Note that a claim for mental stress arising out of a disciplinary action, demotion, termination, work evaluation, job transfer, or other employment actions taken in good faith by an employer is not allowed under Colorado law.
What Benefits Are Available for Mental Stress?
If the Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation accepts your claim for mental stress, you could receive up to 12 weeks of medical impairment benefits, with a maximum of 50 percent of Colorado’s average weekly wage at the time of your claim. However, this limit does not apply to victims of crimes, violence, or occupational injuries or diseases that cause neurological brain damage. You could also recover up to two-thirds of your lost wages from an inability to work.
Consulting with a Denver workers’ compensation attorney can provide more information or assistance in filing a claim for mental stress.
Workers’ compensation claims for mental stress can be challenging to navigate, but it’s important to seek help if you’re experiencing severe anxiety or depression due to your job. With proper evidence and documentation, you may be eligible for benefits under Colorado law. Remember to seek a licensed therapist or psychiatrist for an official diagnosis, and consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for assistance in filing your claim.