Can I Receive a Workers' Comp Settlement for PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop as a result of experiencing or seeing a traumatic incident such as a serious or life-threatening workplace accident or violent assault. PTSD is commonly associated with combat veterans, but many jobs can expose workers to terrifying events leading to PTSD. After any highly stressful experience, it is normal to have some unsettled emotions and thoughts. If you continue to have symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares or stressful thoughts after more than a month, you may be experiencing PTSD.
If you have received a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and are unable to perform your job, you may be entitled to seek workers’ compensation benefits, including lost income and paid medical care. PTSD is a compensable occupational disease under certain conditions, but the cases are challenging to prove. To qualify for benefits, you must provide evidence that your job or an incident at work caused your PTSD. You should seek experienced legal guidance to have the best chance of collecting benefits.
A free consultation with a North Carolina worker’s compensation attorney who has obtained PTSD settlements for injured workers is a good way to inform yourself about your legal options. Turn for help to the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A.
What Are Symptoms of PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress can be debilitating and can leave a worker unable to work for weeks or months.
The symptoms of PTSD fall into four general categories:
- Disturbing memories — A worker may repeatedly relive a traumatic accident or event through intrusive thoughts, flashbacks or recurrent nightmares or upsetting dreams.
- Avoidance — A worker with PTSD may avoid people, places, conversations or activities that are painful reminders of the traumatic event.
- Negative Changes in Mood — An individual may have negative thoughts about himself or herself, feel alienated from friends and family, feel numb emotionally, have no interest in activities he or she formerly enjoyed and have difficulty maintaining close relationships.
- Changes in Reaction — PTSD may cause an individual to be easily frightened, to be constantly on guard for danger, to have difficulty sleeping or concentrating and to be overwhelmed with feelings of guilt or shame.
PTSD can increase your risk of other mental health problems such as depression, alcohol or drug abuse or suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, the symptoms of PTSD may not appear until months or even years after a traumatic incident.
In many cases, workers with valid claims for PTSD initially encounter skeptical workers’ compensation insurance administrators. You may expect the insurer to dispute your PTSD claim or contend that your anxiety disorder was not work related.
It is helpful to have a workers’ compensation attorney who understands the law standing beside you and fighting for your full benefits.
Did Your Job Cause Your Anxiety Disorder?
Most types of work involve some pressure and stress at times. But some jobs involve high levels of stress that are beyond the ordinary stresses of everyday life to which the public is exposed.
Some examples of workplace situations that may lead to a post-traumatic stress include:
- An emergency responder, police officer, EMT or emergency room nurse who responds to a motor vehicle crash involving severely injured children or adults or horrific deaths.
- A teacher or guidance counselor who is threatened or attacked by a student.
- A factory worker who witnesses an explosion that causes fatal injuries to others.
- A construction worker who sees another worker’s near fatal work site accident.
Experiencing intense trauma
North Carolina workers’ compensation law requires three elements to prove that a condition such as PTSD qualifies as a work-related disease or disorder. The three elements are:
- The condition must be characteristic of the type of employment;
- Doing the job exposes the worker to a greater risk of developing the condition or disease than that of a member of the general public;
- There must be proof of a causal link between the job and the condition.
These elements can be complicated to identify in some instances. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney who understands the law will understand the types of medical records, witness statements, accident reports and other evidence needed to build a strong case for workers compensation PTSD benefits or a settlement.
Do You Qualify for a Workers’ Comp Payout for PTSD?
If you have questions about whether you or your loved one may qualify for workers’ compensation for PTSD in North Carolina, you should schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. We will review the specific details of your situation and explain your legal rights under the North Carolina workers’ compensation system.
If your employer has denied your initial claim for workers’ compensation benefits based on PTSD, we can help you appeal the denial. Most claims for benefits related to PTSD are initially denied.
Our lawyers have decades of experience handling workers’ compensation claims. We have been successful in obtaining workers’ compensation settlements related to PTSD. You will not owe any legal fee unless our attorneys are successful in securing a workers’ comp PTSD payout or settlement for you.
Attorneys Robert C. “Chip” Younce Jr. and David E. Vtipil are board-certified specialists in North Carolina workers’ compensation law. Board certification indicates that a lawyer has had additional education and training and passed a written test in a particular area of law. Only a small percentage of attorneys in North Carolina are certified by the North Carolina State Bar as specialists in workers’ compensation law. At Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., we are committed to using our knowledge and experience to help injured workers seek the benefits they need to move forward. Contact us for a free workers’ comp claim review and discussion of your legal options.