Minnesota Work Related Mental Injuries | PTSD | Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Depression | Anxiety | Post Traumatic Stress Disorder | PTSD
Mental work injury or psychiatric/ psychological condition can be covered by Minnesota workers compensation. This may include conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. There are certain types of mental work injuries which are allowed. If allowed, you can be entitled to workers compensation benefits. A Minnesota workers compensation attorney can help an injured worker get these types of claims paid.
The law differentiates between mental injuries and places them into three categories.
- Mental/Physical – This means the mental work injury causes a physical injury (i.e. heart attacks, ulcers, GERD, etc.).
- Phy sical/ Mental – This means the physical injury causes the mental injury.
- Mental/ Mental – This means where the mental stimulus causes a mental injury.
Mental/ Physical Work Injuries
In order for a mental/physical injury to be compensable, there must be medical evidence to prove that a physical condition was the result of the mental stress. For example, it is important that a medical doctor state that the physical and mental condition are related. Often times we see this in heart attacks, ulcers or work-related GERD. They are more prevalent in occupations such as police officers, EMTs, firefighters, correctional officers and state patrol.
Physical/ Mental Work Injuries
If a physical injury results in a mental condition, workers’ compensation will be responsible for the mental condition. Even in cases where you have a preexisting mental condition, it can be covered so long as the physical injury aggravated, accelerate or worsened the pre-existing condition. Again, the work injury itself still needs to be a substantial contributing factor or cause to your mental disability.
Mental/ Mental Work Injuries
One of the more controversial and also scrutinized areas in work comp is the area of mental/ mental injuries. This only occurs when there is no physical injury of any type to you. To date, Minnesota does not recognize all types of mental/ mental injuries but it does recognize PTSD. At present, the only type would be PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder. However, it cannot be caused by the disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, layoff, demotion, promotion, termination, retirement or other similar action. PTSD most all be diagnosed appropriately by a physician.
In a decision in 1954, the Minnesota Supreme Court in Hartman v. Cold Spring Granite Co., held that a psychological injury is compensable when it is the “proximate result of the employee’s injuries, and results in disability”. Since that time, an entire line of cases has moved through the courts expanding the application of the proximate result theory based on a simple principle: where a personal injury aggravates or accelerates a pre-existing condition, the resulting condition is compensable. The mental injury is compensable where the work-related physical injury is a substantial contributing factor and the work injury need not be the sole cause of the mental injury.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Minnesota Work Injury
The symptoms of PTSD according to Sidran Traumatic Stress Institute include:
- an estimated 70 percent of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives and up to 20 percent of these people go on to develop posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
- An estimated 5 percent of Americans—more than 13 million people—have PTSD at any given time.
Approximately 8 percent of all adults—1 of 13 people in this country—will develop PTSD during their lifetime.
- An estimated 1 out of 10 women will get PTSD at some time in their lives. Women are about twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.
Extreme Trauma and PTSD
PTSD may develop following exposure to extreme trauma. Extreme trauma is a terrifying event or ordeal that a person has experienced, witnessed, or learned about, especially one that is life-threatening or causes physical harm. The experience causes that person to feel intense fear, horror, or a sense of helplessness. The stress caused by trauma can affect all aspects of a person’s life including mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Research suggests that prolonged trauma may disrupt and alter brain chemistry. For some people, this may lead to the development of PTSD.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
The symptoms of PTSD include:
- Reliving the trauma through thoughts and feelings – People can have upsetting memories, nightmares, or flashbacks. Flashbacks are when people “see” or feel the trauma over and over again.
- Feeling “numb” and avoiding certain people or places – People avoid thinking about the trauma and avoid people and places that remind them of it. Some people also feel “numb.” They might not enjoy activities they used to enjoy or feel part of the world around them.
- Having intense feelings, such as anger, fear, or worry – People might frighten or startle easily. Many people have trouble sleeping.
These symptoms can start right after the trauma. If they last longer than 3 days, they could be symptoms of a related condition called acute stress disorder (ASD). If they last longer than a month, they could be symptoms of PTSD. Sometimes, though, symptoms of PTSD start years later. The symptoms often affect a person’s job, relationships, or daily life.
Symptoms of PTSD can come and go. They might return when people are under stress or see or hear something that reminds them of the trauma.
It has been estimated that as many as 80% of individuals diagnosed with PTSD are also diagnosed with at least one other disorder. The most common disorders that co-occur with PTSD include:
Substance use disorders
There are essentially two types of treatment.
A type of therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy, or “CBT” – CBT involves meeting with a therapist to talk about your feelings and thoughts. Your therapist will do certain activities with you that can reduce your symptoms. Different types of therapists can do CBT, including psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers. You can work one-on-one with a therapist to have CBT. You can also have CBT as part of group therapy.
Medicines – Doctors can use different types of medicines to treat PTSD. The right one for you will depend on your symptoms and the medicine’s side effects. People usually start feeling better after they have been on medicine for a few weeks.
When should I get help?
If you are having trouble coping because of your PTSD symptoms, you should do one or both of the following:
See a doctor to start treatment with medicine
See a therapist who is trained in CBT to start therapy
If you are thinking of hurting yourself, or if you feel that life isn’t worth living, you should get help right away.
If you see a therapist or doctor for your PTSD, call him or her right away.
If you do not see a therapist or doctor, or if you can’t reach him or her right away, call for an ambulance (in the US and Canada, dial 9-1-1) or go to the emergency room.
PTSD is a Minnesota Work-Related Injury
Under Minnesota worker’s compensation “Mental impairment” is now included as an occupational disease (i.e. a compensable work-related condition), in certain circumstances. It is defined as a condition of post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), as diagnosed by a licensed physician or psychologist. PTSD means the condition as described in the most recent edition of the DMSV published by the American Psychiatric Association. A mental impairment is NOT considered a disease if it results from a disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, layoff, demotion, promotion, termination, retirement or other similar action- taken in good faith by the employer. In other words, the PTSD needs to be due to a traumatic event.
Talk to one of our Minnesota PTSD lawyers and mental health attorneys TODAY about whether you have a right to workers compensation benefits. A Minnesota workers compensation attorney can help to get the mental health treatment and benefits you deserve.