Scores of working people in Indiana are seriously injured every year in workplace and work-related accidents. A work-related accident can be tragic, and serious workplace injuries can have severe psychological as well as physical effects.
How can an injured worker prove that he or she is entitled to workers’ comp benefits? Can working people in Indiana receive workers’ compensation benefits for psychological, work-related injuries – conditions like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Can work injury law firms in Evansville help?
EXACTLY WHAT IS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION?
Workers’ compensation is an insurance system established by the state. Employers pay into the system on behalf of their employees. If an employee is injured in a work-related accident, that employee can file a claim and is entitled to benefits as a result of the injury.
Almost all Indiana employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees. Workers’ comp reimburses injured employees for medical expenses, lost wages, and temporary or permanent disability arising from a work-related injury.
WHAT DOES WORKERS’ COMPENSATION PROVIDE?
While you are temporarily unable to work, workers’ compensation in Indiana will replace two-thirds of your average weekly wages with temporary total disability (TTD) benefits up to a maximum of $780.00 per week (as of 2019).
You cannot qualify for temporary total disability benefits unless you miss seven or more workdays, and you will be paid for those seven days only if your temporary disability lasts for twenty-one days or beyond.
You may receive TTD benefits until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), which means that your condition is not expected to improve further. Temporary total disability benefits may be paid for up to five hundred weeks.
Along with the partial wage replacement provided by TTD benefits, workers’ compensation in Indiana pays “reasonable and necessary” healthcare costs for work-related injuries including the costs of prescriptions, hospital bills, visits to the doctor, and medical devices.
DOES WORKERS’ COMP COVER PSYCHOLOGICAL INJURIES?
You may also receive workers’ comp for mental or psychological injuries caused by a workplace condition or a work-related accident. Of course, the obvious problem that faces psychological injury victims is proving to others that their injuries, although not visible, are in fact genuine.
Nevertheless, recent research indicates that the victims of workplace injuries are substantially more likely to suffer injury-related depression than the victims of non-work-related injuries. Psychological injuries can be a formidable barrier to a workplace accident victim’s full recovery.
IS THERE A LINK BETWEEN PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL INJURIES?
The journal Psychological Medicine recently published a study involving 248 workers who were injured on the job. Eighteen percent of them were diagnosed with depression within a year of the workplace injury. Other study participants reported anxiety, mood swings, and sleep disorders.
The study found that even employees who have sustained minor injuries at the job are more susceptible to depression.
Different research – published in the journal BMC Public Health – has discovered that an employee who sustains an injury at work is more than twice as likely to suffer from depression as employees without injuries.
A worker’s psychological injuries – like depression, anxiety, or PTSD – may surface in unexpected ways. Victims may suffer eating and sleeping disorders, suddenly lose or gain weight, or lose their vitality and their capacity for enjoying life.
WHY IS A WORK INJURY ATTORNEY’S HELP SO IMPERATIVE?
If you need to file a workers’ comp claim arising from a work-related psychological injury, proving that your psychological injury is real can be a genuine challenge. Here in Indiana, you must be advised and represented by an experienced Evansville workers’ compensation attorney.
If you experience guilt, depression, or anxiety after a workplace accident, a workers’ comp lawyer can probably arrange for you to meet with a counselor. Without some kind of counseling or treatment, there is no evidence that you’ve sustained a psychological injury.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT WHEN YOU FILE A WORKERS’ COMP CLAIM?
But even if you’ve received a PTSD, depression, or anxiety diagnosis from a psychiatrist, if you file a workers’ compensation claim for a work-related psychological injury, your employer’s insurance company is going to examine the claim very critically.
If it is seeking evidence to deny your workers’ compensation claim, that insurance company may check into your credit report, your criminal record, and your mental health history. They may interview your colleagues, supervisors, and even your neighbors.
If your workers’ comp claim is denied, your workers’ compensation lawyer can appeal the denial to the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Board. Evidence of your psychological injury – treatment reports and statements from counselors – can be introduced at that appeal hearing.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU NEED WORKERS’ COMP BENEFITS?
If you sustain a psychological injury due to a workplace accident, workers’ compensation can cover treatment costs, counseling costs, and the costs of prescriptions. If you need workers’ compensation to cover those costs because of a psychological injury, this is what you must do:
- Don’t miss any doctors’ appointments and follow all of your doctor’s orders.
- Talk about your concerns with a counselor you trust.
- Exercise, stay active, and try to maintain a balanced, reasonable diet.
- If you’re injured at work, contact an experienced workers’ comp lawyer at once.
A lawyer with workers’ comp experience will know what it takes to prove that you are qualified to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Do not fail to apply for workers’ compensation because you feel that it may be difficult to prove that you are psychologically injured.
WHAT ARE AN INJURED EMPLOYEE’S RIGHTS?
Many Indiana workers may be unsure if they even qualify for workers’ compensation benefits and uncertain about how to submit a workers’ comp claim. Injured employees in Indiana must have the advice and services of an experienced Evansville workers’ compensation attorney.
A good workers’ comp lawyer can help you submit your claim, meet the deadlines, counter any insurance company arguments against your claim, and represent you if your claim is rejected and you need to appeal.
Your attorney can work with your counselors and doctors to compile the medical evidence that will be needed to prove your case. If you have sustained a work-related psychological injury in Indiana, you are entitled to workers’ comp benefits, and a good attorney’s help is also your right.