Can I Seek Workers' Comp for a Psychological Injury?

Unfortunately, all employees in the state of New York are susceptible to the consequences of a work-related accident, but it could be argued that manual laborers are faced with an increased risk of injury. Since construction workers are expected to perform tasks at substantial heights, push their bodies to the limit day-in and day-out, utilize heavy machinery and work under inherently dangerous conditions, this industry experiences one of the highest rates of injury in the country. Fortunately, the law requires all employers in the state to purchase workers' compensation insurance on behalf of their employees—which subsequently means that an injured worker's medical expenses and a percentage of their lost income would be covered after an accident.

Although most people understand that workers' compensation benefits could be obtained after suffering a physical injury on the job, many do not realize that psychological and/or emotional trauma is also considered to be a compensable injury under New York law. In fact, it is even possible for a worker to seek workers' compensation benefits when they, themselves were not the victim of a traumatic accident, but rather an incidental bystander. If you had witnessed the death of a coworker while on the job, for example, you may be able to seek compensation for the emotional ramifications that this experience has caused you. The same would apply if you were consistently subjected to an abnormal amount of stress in the workplace—whether due to harassment or discrimination.

It is important to understand that the scope of this law is very narrow, however, as several different exceptions would apply to a case of this nature. According to N.Y. Workers' Comp. §2(7), benefits would not be awarded if the individual has suffered a mental injury as a result of a "work evaluation, job transfer, demotion, or termination taken in good faith by the employer." For this reason, it is important that you discuss your workers' compensation case with a New York construction accident lawyer from Lurie, Ilchert, MacDonnell & Ryan LLP before filing a claim. In doing so, you can ensure that you fully understand your rights as an injured worker.

For a general rule of thumb for compensable emotional injuries, however, you are encouraged to review the list of examples below:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by a work-related accident
  • Anxiety, depression or panic disorder caused by long-term harassment
  • Pre-existing mental condition that is exacerbated by work conditions
  • Mental injuries that have developed as a result of physical injuries

If you are currently suffering from any of the aforementioned conditions, you should not hesitate to contact our firm today for a free initial consultation. Call at (646) 759-9910 to learn more.