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Stress and your job: Can you get workers’ compensation?

  • Published: May 5, 2016

It’s no secret that a high-stress job can cause health issues. Chronic stress — whether you are a firefighter or you work in an office — may contribute to high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart issues, including heart disease, aneurisms and heart attacks. It can also cause anxiety disorders, depression, chronic headaches, digestive problems, dermatological disorders and more.

But can you get workers’ compensation for the stress you face? The answer: It depends.

The good news is that we live in California. Our workers’ compensation laws support more injuries than many other states’, and judges are starting to recognize that stress-related injuries can be as debilitating as physical trauma. Furthermore, in California, you do not need to show that your job fully caused your injury — only that it was 51 percent of the cause.

To win these claims, you’ll probably need a lawyer

Even in California, these cases can be difficult to win. Chronic high blood pressure, for example, has not been linked to stress. We know that stress causes high blood pressure, but there is no current evidence that it causes chronic blood pressure alone. No matter what your stress-induced injury, the insurance company will fight to show that your own actions contributed more to your physical symptoms than your work duties. To win your case, you will need a good legal team that can provide the best evidence in your favor.

People who work in high-pressure, traumatic jobs, including emergency personnel, often have stronger cases than people whose stress is more traditional. In any case, you will need to show that you are unable to complete your job duties, that a medical professional has diagnosed your condition and believes you are unable to work, that that condition was likely caused by your job duties and that you are receiving treatment for your condition. A lawyer can help you do that.

Anxiety and depression caused by work stress

Have you started taking Prozac because of the stress you feel at work? Has a doctor told you that you need to stop working in order to protect your health? Do you find it impossible to get through your day-to-day work activities due to depression, anxiety, PTSD or another psychological issue?

If you have a diagnosable psychological condition that you believe was caused by your working conditions, and your condition makes it impossible for you to work, you can bring a claim for workers’ compensation. As with other stress-related work comp claims, it is a good idea to work with a lawyer experienced in California workers’ compensation law.


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