Is depression covered in workers’ compensation cases?

Warehouse workerDepression, anxiety and feeling stressed can be caused by one’s job and work environment. Work-related depression is a disorder that is often overlooked in the workplace and may be mistaken for ordinary stress. It may become serious enough to impact your ability to work and you may qualify for workers’ compensation as a result.
A person with symptoms of work-related depression can possess any of the following:

  • Depression — You may feel worthless and have uncontrollable crying spells. You may start having suicidal thoughts, and suicide may seem a way out of your situation. You may lose interest in personal hygiene and physical appearance.
  • The inability to focus on tasks — You may be unable to concentrate on your job because that is what’s causing your problems and your mood disorder. Unless you can find a solution, your mind will remain in this slump, impacting your performance, which could make the situation worse.
  • Time missed from work — If you can’t sleep and want to avoid issues at work, you may call in sick more often.
  • Feeling overwhelmed — You may feel as if the weight of the world is upon your shoulders. Not only has your job performance dropped, but you may have also lost control of your finances and personal life.

Workers’ compensation for depression

New Jersey workers’ compensation law was originally created to compensate workers for physical injuries. Over time, psychiatric disabilities were recognized as potential work-related injuries or occupational illnesses as well.

To have a successful claim for depression, the injured worker needs to show:

  • The work exposure or incident at issue was objectively stressful,
  • The incident and/or exposure was peculiar to the workplace (i.e., not common to everyone or caused outside work), and
  • There must be medical evidence showing the work exposure or incident was a material cause of the psychiatric disability.

It may be difficulty to show your mental condition is the clear result of your work environment and not your private life. What might clearly show a connection to work would be if an employee was involved in or a witness to a very traumatic or stressful event or series of events.

Easier cases to prove involve both physical injuries and a psychological condition. This might happen if an employee contracts a severe occupational illness or a serious injury that causes a permanent partial or total disability.

If you or a loved one is dealing with a serious case of work-related depression, get professional help and contact our office to discuss whether workers’ compensation may be an option for you.