Workplace illness: Is job-related depression compensable?

Most employees in California are likely aware that their employers carry workers' compensation insurance that will provide financial assistance if they should suffer workplace injuries. However, what happens when a worker contracts a workplace illness or suffers job-related depression? Psychological injuries can be debilitating, and costly long-term treatment might be required, but not all employers view it as a compensable condition.

Job-related depression can be classified as primary or secondary. If the condition was caused by mental suffering in the workplace as the result of sexual harassment or bullying, it is regarded as primary job-related depression. These claims are often rejected, and motivating it might require the victim to show exceptional circumstances -- much more than would typically be necessary for proving physical injuries.

When it comes to secondary job-related depression, proving eligibility may be less challenging. This condition applies if the depression followed a catastrophic physical workplace injury. Cases that qualify are typically those in which an employer's negligence or an order to perform duties that are not included in the worker's job description resulted in a severe injury, which then leads to clinical depression or an anxiety disorder. In such a case, the workers' compensation system might cover the medical expenses for both the physical and the psychological injuries.

Whether such a claim will be valid or not is difficult to determine. However, an experienced California workers' compensation attorney can assess the circumstances and determine whether the depression would qualify as a compensable workplace illness. The lawyer can make sure the necessary medical reports and other required documentation are gathered, and he or she can navigate the claims process and also an appeal if the claim is rejected.

Source:, "Workmans' Comp Claim Due to Job Related Depression", Kathy Kattenburg, Accessed on March 16, 2018

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