Generally speaking, it’s really hard to win a stress case under Illinois workers’ compensation law. If you have to work long hours or have a boss that screams or co-workers who are mean, etc. it’s not typically a case if this leads to a mental breakdown.
But there are some stress cases that are covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The main one that we’ve dealt with comes mostly with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) situations.
The typical case is a store worker who gets robbed at gunpoint, often with a gun pointed at their head. Following the robbery it’s not unusual for you to be nervous about returning to work or even unable to do so. This is a real injury and it’s compensable under Illinois law because a stress case has to be something sudden and shocking. A gun to your head truly qualifies.
Another common case which we have experience with is a police officer or other worker that might at some point see a dead body. That can be shocking of course and create problems in being able to do the job. It happens often with retired military personnel who saw awful things during their service time.
No matter how the stress is created, just like if you hurt your leg or back, the most important thing to do is get medical treatment. If you see a psychologist or psychiatrist who says you can’t work, you should be able to receive TTD benefits until you are better. If they say you need accommodations (e.g. if you were robbed during the night shift, they might say you can only work during the day), the employer would have to accommodate you or again you’d get TTD if they didn’t.
In general these cases are not much different than slipping on the floor and tearing your ACL other than that you can’t actually see the injury with a X-ray or MRI. That makes some people (insurance adjusters, defense lawyers) not believe that you are really going through something. Your treatment with a psychiatrist or psychologist not only helps you get healthy, but is mandatory for proving your case. You can’t say that you are too stressed to work and expect to get paid for staying home. But if a doctor says you can’t work and they are credible then it’s a different story.
Long term, just like any other case, if you have permanent restrictions that can’t be accommodated, you can receive vocational rehabilitation to help you find a new job within your restrictions. If you suffer a loss of pay you can likely receive wage differential payments. But short term we again emphasize that there is nothing more important than your health. So while you need to see a doctor to win your case, don’t do it for that reason. Do it because you truly need some help.
If you have any questions about these cases or anything related to workers’ compensation please contact us.