If you are one of those who can no longer enjoy a few sips of coffee at work, there is good news for you. Workplace stress injuries may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. The rise in employee compensation lawsuits that include stress is just unbelievable. Some work injuries are evident while others may take some time to be discovered. Employers have the legal obligation, and they know it, but they would not tell you upfront. That is something you have to find out on your own with the help of a Miami personal injury lawyer.
Keep in mind, workplace stress injuries are usually of a physical nature and they stem from repetitive movements that may cause muscle strain, and some conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. However, cases involving mental and emotional injuries may also qualify for compensation under some circumstances. We are going to take a closer look at both categories of work-related stress injuries and explore some of your legal options.
Physical Stress Injuries
These are the injuries easy to identify. A typical example is the stressed-out administrative assistant with her face buried under a pile of folders. For her, life doesn’t get any better. To make matters worse, she is now suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, yet she keeps typing with a smile on her face pretending everything is ok. But it’s not ok. The same is true for the person in charge of stocking shelves at a warehouse that suffers from chronic back injury from all the heavy lifting. What about the construction worker that suffered nerve damage from using the jackhammer more than he should? These are all vivid examples of repetitive activities at work that may result in serious physical complications.
So what are your options? While you may not be able to file a lawsuit against your employer, there is a remedy available through the workers’ compensation system. Employees injured by repetitive stress injuries at work may qualify for benefits. But you must immediately make an incident report and get your workers’ comp claim started. Usually, you must seek medical treatment so that a physician can determine whether your condition or injuries are work-related. You must contact a Miami personal injury attorney before undergoing a medical examination. As long as you can prove your injuries are linked to physical activity on the job, you may receive benefits such as:
- Weekly compensation
- Permanent impairment
- Medical treatment coverage
- Vocational rehabilitation
Emotional/Mental Stress Injuries
These types of injuries are more difficult to prove so it may be harder to gain compensation. In the state of Florida, a mental injury must be linked to a physical injury that needs medical treatment to qualify for benefits. But you must gather convincing evidence disclosed by a licensed psychiatrist. Your Miami personal injury attorney will have to prove that the mental condition caused the physical injury, and responsible for as much as 50 percent of the damage. Workers’ comp will not cover emotional, psychological, and mental injuries caused by preexisting medical conditions or by losing a job.
Filing a personal injury claim
If the conduct causing you stress is grievous, and worker’s comp did not cover it, you may have a chance outside the system. In other words, it’s possible to file a personal injury lawsuit for the negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress. Usually, you will have to prove the defendant‘s conduct, whether that was your employer or coworkers. These cases can be complex as they go beyond work-related stress.
Possible disability claim
This is also a possibility if you are suffering from debilitating anxiety that has directly interfered with your duties at work to the point you can no longer function. But is it possible to receive Social Security benefits? You might, based on several factors, which only an experienced Miami disability lawyer can help you determine. Some of the factors to consider include:
- The nature of stress
- Decision-making capacity
- The capacity to cope with changes to your work schedule
- The ability to understand and follow instructions
What to do
So, if the emotional stress at work is unbearable and you don’t know what to do, you have found the right place to inquire about your legal rights and move forward in the right direction. Take notes about everything that happened, talk to your coworkers, follow your employer’s reporting rules, but above all, contact your attorney. Trust me; you can’t do this alone.