Can workers receive workers’ compensation for emotional distress?

Many jobs come with a certain level of inherent risk. For instance, people recognize the construction and manufacturing industries as dangerous. Even office workers may sustain workplace injuries that lead to them being unable to work for a time.

Workers’ compensation insurance protects both employees and employers when incidents leading to injuries occur. While they cover costs like medical bills and lost wages for physical impairments, those are not the only kind that exist. Emotional and mental distress is a problem too. The question is, can those with it receive workers’ compensation benefits?

Three conditions must exist

In New Jersey, workers can receive benefits for psychological harm caused as a direct result of their work. However, the trauma must meet certain criteria. It must be the result of conditions proven to be stressful when viewed objectively. The stressful conditions must be unique, meaning they must not be normal to the type of workplace or industry. Finally, there must be evidence and a medical opinion backed by proof. The employee’s opinion is not enough by itself.

Certain circumstances do not qualify individuals for benefits

Stress induced by normal working conditions does not qualify people for benefits. Job loss also does not. The exacerbation of an existing mental condition may fall under workers’ compensation protection, but it is not easy to prove. Any form of mental or emotional trauma not caused by the workplace environment or duties does not qualify a person for workers’ compensation.

A ComPsych report found that over 60% of workers experience extreme levels of stress because of their jobs. Psychological illnesses and injuries are serious matters that can arise from people’s jobs. Depending on the circumstances and the proof available, individuals with work-related stress may be able to receive workers’ compensation.