Emotional Stress Injuries In Illinois

Mean boss, bad work environment, cruel coworkers:  a recipe for job-related stress.  But psychological stress injuries, even if caused by your job, are not generally covered under workers’ compensation in Illinois. 

Sometimes the stress and pressure from your job can cause you to suffer emotionally and psychologically, as it builds up over time.  This type of injury, though, without more, usually will not trigger workers’ compensation benefits.  There are a few additional factors, that if part of the picture, could change the result and allow compensation.

Instead of the cause of the psychological injury being stress that wears at you over time, if there was a sudden event that you could point to as the cause, you’re likely to have your injury covered.  This type of event could either be something physical or emotional. 

An example of a physical event that could trigger benefits, would be if your boss inappropriately hit or touched you in a way that caused you to suffer panic attacks.  In proving your case, you could point to specific incidents on specific days that began your psychological injury.

An emotional event that could trigger benefits for a stress injury, would be witnessing something sudden, severe, and shocking that occurred at work, such as the death of a coworker.  If, for example, you work in a factory and saw your coworker violently injured or killed by the machinery, you could suffer serious psychological injuries from this specific event.

Another type of stress injury that could be covered under workers’ compensation, that may seem psychological, really is, for the most part, physical in nature.  If your job stress has caused you to suffer a physical injury such as hypertension, then this is a different scenario. Here you are not suffering from a psychological injury, but instead, you have a physical injury that may have been brought about by the emotional stress of your job.  Even though there is a psychological aspect to your injury, your body itself can suffer and deteriorate as a result. 

Each of these stress-related job injuries has some other element to it other than a lousy job making you feel lousy.  That’s not to say that the way you feel from a stressful job isn’t significant.  Stress injuries can be very real and make it difficult to work--but Illinois workers’ compensation does not usually cover it.  That does not mean that you should ignore injuries that are related to stressful work situations.  Just as these examples show, there are those cases where, when you look at the total picture, you can justify getting benefits for your injury. 

We are workers' compensation attorneys who help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys. Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.

By Michael Helfand

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