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Can You Get Workers’ Compensation for Depression?

When you think about workers’ compensation, you may initially picture severe physical injuries sustained while on the clock. While this can be true, what about workplace injuries that can’t be seen, such as anxiety or depression?

In Vermont, psychological conditions like anxiety or depression can sometimes be a valid reason to obtain workers’ compensation benefits if you can show that the condition is related to your work or that your work aggravated a pre-existing condition. This can be difficult to prove without help from your medical provider and an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

Depression May Get You Benefits

There was a time when “feeling blue” was something that you needed to overcome and get back to work. Today, mental health issues have become more prominent and better understood. We are seeing more and more people speak out about the importance of mental health and its causes. We understand that depression is not an emotion but a significant condition that should be taken seriously and treated by a professional.

Depression can be considered a valid workers’ compensation injury when it arises from a physical work injury or when an unexpectedly stressful work situation causes mental injury. If your depression is found to be compensable, you will have access to a range of benefits, including:

  • Payment of your medical bills, including therapy sessions and anti-depressants.
  • Permanency benefits
  • Compensation for time out of work due to your condition
  • Vocational rehabilitation services if your depression makes it impossible to return to the job or type of work you had before.

Vermont is one of the only states that provides workers’ compensation benefits for first responders with PTSD. If a first responder develops PTSD, the law now presumes that it is related to their job, unless the insurance carrier can prove otherwise.

Physical Injuries May Cause Depression

It’s quite common following a physical injury for the worker to become depressed. The depression may be brought on by any of the following reasons:

  • Loss of identity associated with your job
  • A drastic change in lifestyle after the accident
  • Loss of interest in things that you once found enjoyment in (often physical activities)
  • Lack of confidence due to the injury, often following severe injuries that disfigure body parts (burns, amputations, etc.)
  • Overburdened by bills
  • Feeling of hopelessness

The depression may also stay with the worker long after their physical injuries have healed fully, meaning you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation even after your physical pain has healed.

Legal and Medical Causation

To get workers’ compensation benefits for a non-physical injury or ailment such as depression, you will need to prove that the injury is compensable. There are two areas to look at:

  • A physical/mental claim, where a worker has an accepted physical work injury that causes a psychological condition to arise. The psychological injury could be a completely new condition or an aggravation of an existing condition. One example might be a person who suffers a back injury that requires ongoing medical care and prevents them from supporting their family in the future. If this worker develops depression as a result, they would likely be able to get workers’ compensation benefits for their depression.  
  • A mental/mental claim. In this case, there is no physical work injury, only a psychological injury. To get workers’ compensation benefits, a worker would have to show that they were subjected to extraordinary, unexpected stress in their work. For example, a crisis counselor who develops depression after a patient commits suicide would not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for their depression.

How BFS Can Help

Our attorneys at Biggam Fox Skinner realize how important good mental health is and want to be there to support each of our clients through what may be the roughest time of their lives. We take each of our client’s needs to heart to ensure we fight for the best possible outcome.

Our qualified Vermont personal injury attorneys have had extensive experience dealing with these types of claims and are extremely passionate about helping our clients thrive. If you are suffering from work-related depression you may have a case.

 Call (802) 375-7603 today to schedule your free case evaluation.

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