Vermont Workers’ Compensation and Mental Injury Claims
Work injuries are not limited to physical injuries. Work injuries can encompass both physical and mental health issues. However, when people think of work injuries and workers’ compensation, many only picture physical injuries. After suffering a physical injury such as a fracture, cut, head or brain injury, or burn, it may be obvious that you are eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. But what if you have suffered a mental injury? Can you make a workers’ compensation claim for a mental injury? In Vermont, workers’ compensation typically covers both physical and mental injuries arising from work-related circumstances. However, mental injury workers’ compensation claims are usually more challenging than physical injury workers’ compensation claims. Fortunately, with the help of a qualified workers’ compensation attorney, it is possible to have a successful mental injury workers’ compensation claim.
Vermont Law on Work-Related Psychological Injuries
According to Vermont workers’ compensation law, psychological or mental injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment are just as compensable as physical injuries. If a mental injury is directly connected to the work environment or work-related stressors, it is covered under Vermont workers’ compensation. The following are examples of mental injuries that can arise out of and in the course of employment;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Chronic stress
In Vermont, two types of mental injury claims are recognized under workers’ compensation. They are “physical-mental” and “mental-mental” claims. These two types of claims are discussed below.
A physical-mental claim arises when a worker claims that their work-related physical injury resulted in them developing a psychological problem. An example of an employee with a valid physical-mental claim is an employee who develops depression following a job-related head injury.
In a physical-mental claim, the injured employee must prove a causal connection between their physical and mental injury. In other words, the worker must show the link between their physical and psychological injury.
In physical-mental workers’ compensation claims, usually, the severity of the physical injury does not matter. While the severity of the physical injury might strengthen the case for a causal link between the physical injury and the resulting mental injury, the focus in these cases often revolves around proving the causal link between the physical and mental injury.
A mental-mental workers’ compensation claim is one that doesn’t involve a physical injury. In this type of claim, the worker claims that their mental injury resulted from work-related stress.
In a mental-mental claim, the injured worker must meet a higher standard of proof. The following are the things a worker needs to demonstrate in order to have a successful mental-mental workers’ compensation claim;
- A work condition created an actual stressful situation
- The work condition was the proximate cause of the mental injury
- The situation created by the work situation was significantly greater than the daily stressors other similarly situated employees encounter.
For example, suppose a truck driver witnesses a bad accident scene and then develops PTSD or depression. They may have a valid mental-mental claim.
According to Vermont law, in the case of firefighters, police officers, and EMTs, PTSD diagnosed by a mental health professional is presumed to have been incurred during service in the line of duty and is compensable unless it is proven otherwise by a preponderance of the evidence.
Contact a Vermont Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Our Vermont workers’ compensation attorney at Sluka Law PLC has extensive experience helping injured workers recover the benefits they deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.