Generally speaking, most mental stress cases are not covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. If your boss is a jerk who yells and screams or you have to work long hours or your co-workers are mean to you or you feel a lot of pressure, that is unfair, but typically not a case. The exception would be if something physical happened along with it. For example, if your boss screams in your face and punches you, if you had a mental breakdown from that, it would be covered. Same is true if you have a back surgery that is work related and become depressed because you haven’t made a good recovery or can’t physically do what you used to do.
Otherwise, to have a claim for work comp benefits for a mental stress injury you must have something happen that is severe, sudden and shocking. The classic example is a co-worker who saw another co-worker get pulled in to a machine at work and killed. When they felt they couldn’t do that job anymore and sought therapy, it was covered as a mental injury.
We’ve seen a lot of good cases over the last few years. For example, a flight attendant had a passenger who had a heart attack and died in their arms while they administered CPR. After that the flight attendant had continuous nightmares and anxiety about flying in general.
We’ve worked with a lot of heroes who have served in the military in some of the worst imaginable situations and then come back to work as police or firemen. Seeing a dead body on their civilian jobs lead to PTSD due to flashbacks or trauma from what they experienced at war. A case like that should be covered too.
The bottom line is that we’ll talk to you about any situation you are going through and do whatever we can to help. We don’t make the law, we tell you what it is, but if there is any shot at victory we’ll let you know. These are tough cases when there isn’t a sudden and shocking event and a lot of people can’t get coverage.
Most of all, it’s important, not just for the case, to get treatment with a psychologist or psychiatrist if you are experiencing mental stress. For the case it proves an actual injury in the same way a MRI or X-ray would. More importantly, just as you wouldn’t let a broken leg go untreated, you can’t let these problems go untreated or they will get much worse.
If there’s anything we can to do help, please let us know.