An accident or incident at that leaves you traumatized could result in long-lasting mental health concerns, including post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Alabama workers’ compensation benefits could cover your costs.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental condition that can occur in people who experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event.
People who experience PTSD are often survivors of war; natural disasters like tornadoes, floods, or earthquakes; violent crimes such as rape or sexual assault, mugging, etc.; witnessing a homicide or shooting; or accidents like car crashes.
Some people who are diagnosed with PTSD are mildly affected and are able to function adequately in their daily lives, but others are severely disabled and it affects how they live and work. Although you could experience PTSD from an experience at any job, people who work in emergency services (for instance, police and firefighters), health care, rescue operations and the military are at higher risk than people in other types of professions.
Symptoms of PTSD
Symptoms of PTSD can vary from person to person but often include:
- Flashbacks, or reliving the trauma repeatedly, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating.
- Nightmares, or other sleep-related issues like insomnia.
- Distress that is triggered by reminders of the trauma.
- Avoidance, or purposely staying clear of people, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma.
- Negative thoughts and feelings might include ongoing or distorted beliefs about yourself or others, such as disbelief in your own self-worth or an inability to trust other people. It could also include loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, suicidal thoughts, feeling emotionally numb, depression, guilt or anxiety.
- Trouble concentrating or difficulty remembering essential details of the traumatic event.
- Irritability or being easily startled and feeling tense edgy.
When does an injury qualify for Alabama workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD?
Workers’ compensation benefits are provided to workers who were injured while performing tasks related to their job or at their workplace.
In order to receive benefits under workers’ compensation, you don’t need to prove fault or negligence. You need to prove (1) that you were injured (and to what extent), and (2) that the injury happened either at your workplace or while you were doing your job.
These benefits can include costs related to psychological distress including PTSD and depression if they meet the criteria for workers’ compensation. The condition could qualify if it cost you money, either for medical treatment (including psychological counseling or medication) or if it caused you to lose wages as a result of being unable to work.
Alabama follows a set of standards that you must meet in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits for an emotional injury. A worker can’t just say they feel stressed or depressed because of an incident at work and expect to qualify for benefits; they must have a medical diagnosis from an approved provider.
They must also be able to demonstrate that the diagnosed condition was caused by something that happened at their job. In other words, they can’t receive workers’ compensation benefits for anxiety- or trauma-induced PTSD that happened because of factors outside of their job.
Types of benefits for an Alabama workers’ compensation claim
Workers’ compensation benefits could include:
- A percentage of your lost wages;
- Costs for medical treatment;
- Transportation to medical appointments;
- Job placement or retraining if you’re unable to return to work in the same capacity as prior to the traumatic event.
Tips for preventing PTSD at work
Employers should take steps to prevent incidents that can cause post-traumatic stress disorder. These include training employees to be aware of avoiding violent acts (such as being wary of isolated areas), ensuring that employees are not exposed to toxic substances and providing adequate personal protective equipment.
Employers could take steps that include:
- Training workers to handle dangerous equipment, materials or situations safely
- Equipping workers with necessary safety gear and protective equipment
- Providing clear instructions for potentially unsafe tasks
What should I do if I’m diagnosed with PTSD?
If you think you have work-related PTSD, you need to see your doctor. Your doctor should either make a mental health referral to a specialist or recommend treatment and prescribe medications.
You also need to notify your employer, as you would with any work-related injury for which you intend to make a workers’ compensation claim.
Alabama Code 25-5-78 requires that you provide your employer with written notice of your workplace injury within 5 days after the occurrence of the injury. In most instances, this includes the date you discovered the injury. For example, you might not experience PTSD on the day a traumatic event occurs, but you need to notify your doctor as soon as it becomes clear that you have PTSD or if you are diagnosed.
Failure to provide notice within 5 days will result in the denial of your workers’ compensation claim unless you can prove that you were prevented from providing notice by reason of physical or mental incapacity. In that case, if written notice isn’t provided within 90 days, your claim will be denied.
Since time is of the essence, it’s crucial that you contact an Alabama workers’ compensation lawyer immediately. Your lawyer will review your medical reports, the cause of the condition, and other evidence in order to make a strong case that your PTSD was caused by a work-related incident.
If you’ve experienced trauma at work or believe you have lasting mental illness or PTSD as a result of work conditions, contact the lawyers at Nomberg Law Firm today for a free consultation.
About Nomberg Law Firm
Nomberg Law Firm has been helping people in Alabama recover fair compensation for their injuries since 1967. We know our clients are hard-working men and women who deserve the best representation possible.
We understand how hard it can be to pay your bills and get back on your feet while trying to recover from a serious injury. That’s why we dedicate our entire practice to fighting for your rights and obtaining maximum financial compensation.
The sheer number of clients at larger law firms means you’re one of many. As a small, family-owned injury law firm, we can focus on your needs, provide individualized assistance, and offer you one-on-one attention that larger firms simply cannot match.
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