Depression and Mental Health Injuries
People who are injured in a workplace accident may become depressed or suffer anxiety or other mental illnesses as a result of their limited income, inability to work, or lack of participation in activities they previously enjoyed. Mental health injuries may also be the result of job-related conditions in certain occupations. If your condition was caused or exacerbated by a workplace accident, you may be entitled to compensation for psychological and other medical treatment, lost wages, and other benefits. The North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP understand the complexity of proving causation in claims involving mental conditions, and we have substantial experience pursuing such claims.Benefits for Depression and Mental Illnesses
Under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee may receive compensation for harm caused by an accident or occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment. If a job-related injury leaves an employee in a weakened state that results in further harm, that subsequent injury may be compensable as well. In addition, when a pre-existing, non-disabling, non-work-related condition is aggravated or accelerated by an accident arising out of employment, causing a disability, the employee may be compensated for the resulting disability. Thus, in cases of depression and mental health injuries, North Carolina courts have held that if an accidental workplace injury causes or aggravates an employee’s previously non-disabling or non-existent depression, anxiety, or other mental condition, the employee may be compensated for psychological treatment and lost wages.
North Carolina courts have also recognized claims for work-related mental illness as an occupational disease. For an occupational disease, such as depression, to be compensable, it must be characteristic among the employees engaged in that particular trade or occupation, it cannot be a disease to which the general public is just as exposed as those engaged in that particular trade or occupation, and there must be a causal connection between the disease and the employment. The occupational exposure or accident need not be the sole cause of the mental illness. All that is required is that it is a significant factor in the development of the psychological condition, which means that but for such occupational exposure, the employee’s mental condition would not have developed to the point of a disability that resulted in the claimant's inability to work.
Under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, a disability is defined as the incapacity to earn the same amount of wages that the worker was receiving before the injury, as a result of that injury. An eligible employee thus may receive benefits based on temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent partial disability, or permanent total disability. In addition to compensation for lost wages, other benefits may include medical care and traveling expenses to receive medical care, compensation for disfigurement, vocational rehabilitation, and death benefits for survivors.Discuss Your Workers’ Compensation Claim with a North Carolina Attorney
Claims involving depression and other mental injuries caused by workplace accidents or occupational diseases can be complicated. At Grimes Teich Anderson LLP, our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers can assist you in trying to prove that your mental injury is covered by the benefits system. We have represented claimants in communities such as Asheville, Franklin, Rutherfordton, Waynesville, and Spruce Pine, among others. To discuss your claim with one of our knowledgeable work injury lawyers, contact us at 800.533.6845 or complete our online form to set up a free consultation.