Workers’ Compensation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The psychological impact from a major injury can linger long after it has healed. One of the most common psychiatric effects of a serious injury is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD includes a wide range of symptoms that can occur after someone witnesses or experiences a traumatic event, such as a car accident, physical assault, or severe injury.

Common symptoms of PTSD include anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, panic attacks, flashbacks, and changes to your internal fight-or-flight response. If left untreated, people with PTSD may develop further complications, such as substance abuse issues and the potential for self-harm or violence toward others.

If you’ve experienced a traumatic event at work and later developed PTSD, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. To give yourself the best possible chance of obtaining these benefits, talk to the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyers at Calhoon & Kaminsky P.C.

Workers’ compensation is all we do. Over the past 20 years, our attorneys have successfully recovered more than $221 million in compensation for injured workers just like you. For immediate help with your PTSD workers’ compensation claim, call or contact us now.

What Are the Common Causes of PTSD?

While not everyone who experiences a traumatic event or injury will end up developing PTSD, the American Psychiatric Association reports that 3.5 percent of U.S. adults are affected by PTSD every year. PTSD can happen to anyone after a traumatic experience, but it’s more common for people who work in high-stress jobs, such as police officers, firefighters, EMTs, medical personnel, and military service members.

PTSD is generally related to a specific event, but it can also develop over time if someone is repeatedly exposed to traumatic or stressful situations (e.g., military veterans developing PTSD due to combat pressure, even if they were never directly wounded). Some of the most common causes of work-related PTSD include:

  • Motor-vehicle accidents
  • Physical assaults
  • Repetitive exposure to high-stress situations at work
  • Catastrophic injuries from workplace accidents (e.g., crushed or amputated limbs, burn injuries, etc.)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Robberies
  • Sexual abuse/sexual assault
  • Workplace stress and harassment
  • Natural disasters (tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, etc.)

What Is the Average Workers’ Comp Settlement Amount for PTSD?

There’s no way to calculate an average settlement amount is for workers’ compensation cases involving PTSD. Every case is different. The amount you could potentially receive in a settlement depends on many different factors, such as how badly you’ve been affected by PTSD, how long it’s lasted, whether you have any physical injuries in addition to PTSD, and if you have strong evidence to support your claim.

Pennsylvania requires most businesses with at least one employee to carry workers’ compensation coverage for their workers. There are specific benefits required by state law, including:

  • Payments for any medical care due to your work-related injury or illness: This includes treatment for your physical injuries and medication, therapy, and other mental health care you may need to treat your PTSD. Pennsylvania law allows you to pick your own doctor for treatment unless your employer accepts your workers’ comp claim and gives you a list of at least six doctors for you to choose from.
  • Partial compensation for lost wages while you receive mental health treatment: Lost wage benefits are paid out at two-thirds of your weekly average compensation, up to a maximum limit set by state law.
  • Disability benefits: The amount you could receive in benefits will depend on the impairment rating you receive from your doctor. You can receive partial disability benefits for up to 500 weeks. If your doctor determines that you have a permanent, total disability, you could receive workers’ comp benefits for the rest of your life, though these cases are uncommon.

If you develop PTSD due to the loss of a specific body part, you may be eligible for additional benefits. The amount you could receive and how long the benefits will last depend on the injured body part. You can look at a benefits schedule here.

How to File a Workers’ Comp Claim for PTSD in PA

Here’s how to file your claim for worker’s comp benefits if you’ve living with job-related PTSD:

  • Report your injury to your employer: Notify your employer as soon as possible. If you report your PTSD with 21 days of diagnosis, you can receive benefits dating from the date of the injury. If you want to have any chance of claiming benefits at all, you’ll need to report it within 120 days of when it occurred.
  • Seek medical treatment: You’ll want to begin treatment as soon as possible. If you start treatment within 90 days of your injury, you may be required to see a doctor of your employer’s choosing. Afterward, you can generally see the doctor of your choice. Make sure to keep all of your medical records to submit them as part of your claim.
  • File a report with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry: In most worker’s compensation cases, your employer will start the claims process by making the first report of your injury to state authorities. If your employer does not report it, you have three years from the date of your injury to file your own claim.
  • Complete all necessary forms: The workers’ compensation process is filled with paperwork. You can see some of those forms here. You will need to ensure that these forms are filled out correctly or risk having your benefits reduced or denied. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can take care of this process for you.

Once the state has received the report, your employer’s workers’ comp carrier has 21 days to accept or reject your claim. If your claim is accepted, you’ll start receiving benefits. If not, you may need to appeal your claim to get the benefits you need. If you’re considering an appeal, Calhoon & Kaminsky P.C. highly recommends consulting with a workers’ compensation lawyer first.

Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today

At Calhoon & Kaminsky P.C., we know that the idea of filing for workers’ compensation benefits may feel overwhelming. Let us take the burden off your shoulders. If you’re living with work-related PTSD, call or contact us for a free case review.