The Psychological Toll of a Workers' Compensation Injury
Sometimes the hardest part of a workers' compensation injury is the psychological toll. Excruciating physical pain can lead to emotional suffering and depression. At the law offices of Randy Zeldin, Esq., I often tell clients they would not be human if they did not have an emotional response to a bad physical injury. This is most often true of my male clients, who in an attempt to be "macho" may bottle up their pain.
Fortunately, Florida workers' compensation laws can provide psychological and psychiatric benefits, as a result of a physical injury. Under the law, as long as a mental injury is the result of a physical injury, psychological and psychiatric benefits can be awarded and are available. That is, mental or nervous injuries occurring as a manifestation of an injury would be the basis for getting mental health care. Benefits are not available under Florida workers' compensation laws as a result of stress, fright or excitement alone. An example would be a police officer who is shot by gun fire in the course of his duties and thereafter suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The physical injury must be at least 50% responsible for the mental or nervous condition as compared to all other contributory causes (NOT workers’ compensation) combined. The law limits any temporary indemnity (lost wage) benefits based on a mental/nervous injury, to a maximum of 6 months after the claimant has reached maximum, medical improvement for the underlying physical injury. Further, the workers’ compensation law caps the rating of any mental condition to 1%, for purposes of calculating future lost wages!
The Florida workers’ compensation law specifically excludes the following situations from mental health coverage:
- A mental or nervous injury due to stress, fright or excitement. Therefore, stress induced anxiety from a difficult “boss” cannot lead to workers’ compensation benefits.
- A disease that manifests itself in the fear or dislike for an individual because of the individual’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin or handicap, is not a workers’ compensation injury.
- Workers’ Compensation is not payable for the mental, psychological or emotional injury arising out of depression from being out of work or losing employment opportunities.
In many cases, the Courts have denied mental health care for victims of sexual harassment on the job-although these are dependent on the specific facts.
The Law Offices of Randy Zeldin, Esq. serving Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Ft. Lauderdale, has successfully obtained the services of psychologists and psychiatrists for many injured workers. Recently, a client who had a spinal fusion, resulting in a failed back syndrome, received psychiatric care because of chronic pain. He is receiving anti-depressant medication and is doing much better. Another client of Randy Zeldin, Esq., suffered from severe depression due to partial blindness as a result of an eye injury. Again, psychiatric care was a huge assist to this unfortunate working person.
Contact Randy Zeldin, Esq. to discuss psychiatric and psychological care for mental injuries in your workers' compensation case, in Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.