The intersection of mental health and workers’ compensation is a complex area, particularly in Florida. The laws governing workers compensation and mental health are intricate and specific. Our Boca Raton workers’ compensation lawyers break down the facts for you here.
Contact our law firm today if you have questions about whether you qualify for benefits or need help with your claim.
Florida Workers Compensation and Mental Health
According to Florida Statute 440.093, just having a mental or nervous injury from stress, fear, or excitement doesn’t count as a work-related injury. If someone experiences mental stress without a physical injury, the law doesn’t allow them to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
The law allows workers to receive Florida workers’ compensation benefits for mental health conditions, but only if the cause is a work-related physical injury or illness.
For example, suppose a worker suffers a traumatic brain injury and develops anxiety and depression as a result. In this situation, workers’ compensation may cover treatment for these mental health issues. On the other hand, someone who develops anxiety because of job-related stress with no physical injury would not be entitled to workers’ compensation.
The Interplay Between Physical Injuries and Mental Health
You must be able to show that you suffered a physical injury to qualify for workers’ compensation. It is not enough to complain that you’re experiencing extreme stress or anxiety.
A physical injury must be the major contributing cause of the mental or nervous condition. The physical injury, as determined by reasonable medical certainty, must be at least 50 percent responsible compared to all other contributing causes.
Proving You Qualify for Workers’ Comp Benefits
First, you must meet the basic criteria for workers compensation. For example, if you don’t report your injury within thirty (30) days, you’ll lose your right to receive workers comp benefits.
The same is true if you were using alcohol or drugs at the time of your workplace accident. All employers require their workers to take a drug test immediately after reporting an on-the-job accident. If you fail this test, you won’t receive workers compensation benefits.
To support your claim, your Boca Raton workers’ comp lawyer will seek to gather evidence to show the following:
- You suffered a physical injury while on the job.
- Your physical injuries caused you to suffer mental health issues.
- You’ve been diagnosed by a licensed psychiatrist.
- Your mental condition was directly caused by your workplace accident.
Special Provisions for First Responders
As early as 2007, Florida law recognized that first responders faced an increased risk of PTSD due to their jobs. The law at the time allowed first responders to receive medical coverage for PTSD through workers’ compensation but not wage loss benefits.
In 2018, Florida passed a new law making first responders exposed to extremely traumatic events eligible for medical care and weekly replacement wages. However, there are very specific circumstances that must apply.
For example, the law only applies to certain workers. These include the following:
- Members of law enforcement
For first responders to be eligible for weekly benefits in a situation where there is no physical injury, the following criteria must be met:
- The first responder must be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by a psychiatrist following a “death-related” event.
- The event must occur during the normal scope of employment.
- This event could involve the death of a child, a homicide, or the death of anyone who suffered serious bodily harm.
- The law does extend to situations involving suicide.
- The first responder must have either seen or heard the event that caused the death.
- A claim must be filed within thirty (30) days of the triggering event.
Your Boca Raton workers comp attorney must demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, that the event was the source of your PTSD.
Reach Out to Our Boca Raton Workers’ Comp Lawyers
The rules surrounding mental health in Florida’s workers’ compensation system are complex. It can be difficult to know if your condition qualifies, and insurance companies often deny coverage for stress, anxiety, and other psychological conditions.