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Do Workers Compensation Settlements Pay for Pain, Suffering & Emotional Damages?

Posted on June 17, 2022

Employers carry workers’ compensation insurance to pay for the medical bills of employees injured on the job and partial lost wages for the time they miss from work. These benefits are supplied regardless of who was at fault. Unlike a personal injury claim, a workers’ compensation settlement will not pay for pain, suffering, and emotional damages. However, if you are diagnosed with a mental or psychological injury caused by your job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. 

What is a Mental Injury Claim in Pennsylvania?

Workplace injuries can be physical or mental, but both take a toll on an employee’s life. A mental injury can be related to a physical injury or may emerge on its own because of your job. In other words, certain workplace environments can trigger a psychological condition for some workers even if they do not suffer a physical injury. Often, a mental injury will fall into one of the following categories: 

  • Mental/Physical: The mental distress caused by a job results in a physical ailment (i.e., heart attack, ulcers, migraines, etc.) 
  • Physical/Mental: A bodily injury suffered while working leads to a psychological condition. For example, a severe injury caused by a piece of machinery may cause the worker extreme anxiety when they must use it again, making it challenging to do their job. 
  • Mental/Mental: Mental stimulus causes a mental injury. For instance, witnessing a co-worker suffer a severe or fatal injury can lead to PTSD that affects their ability to work. Not every state recognizes mental/mental work-related injuries, but Pennsylvania does. 

If you are eligible for a mental injury claim in Pennsylvania, you can receive workers’ compensation benefits similar to suffering a physical injury. Those include payment for reasonable medical expenses related to the mental injury (e.g., therapy, medications, etc.), partial lost wages if you suffer temporary or permanent disability, and benefits for vocational rehabilitation if necessary. 

What Are Common Examples of an Emotional & Mental Injuries?

A workplace emotional or mental injury impacts a person’s way of thinking, feeling, and behaving (e.g., depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.). They can be caused by environmental, organizational, and individual factors but are most commonly due to the following. 

Job Insecurity 

Companies with a high turnover rate or that are highly competitive can set impossibly high performance targets, causing employees to have feelings of incompetence and worry about keeping their position or job. In addition, high expectations can make it difficult for employees to even relax at home and get the rest they need.

Harassment and Bullying

Workplace bullying can be characterized as verbal, physical, social, or psychological attacks. For example, hurtful comments, exclusion, sexual harassment, threats, manipulation, demeaning work, pushing, tripping, etc. can cause severe anxiety, stress, and depression. As a result, employees often dread going to work, leading to poor performance.

Work Overload

An overly demanding job can cause stress for employees, especially if the company is understaffed. Work-related stress can lead to poor work performance, depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. 

Difficult Customers

Employees who work in customer service are especially prone to coming into contact with difficult customers. As a result, they may struggle with managing their stress and fear due to conflicts with customers, even after they are resolved. 

Shift Work

After-hours or night shift work disrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythm, which can lead to a range of health issues, including higher levels of stress and dissatisfaction. 

Early intervention for mental injuries related to work is important, as it often takes longer for a worker to return to their job compared to physical injuries.