I had a tough call with a really good guy recently. He works at a nursing home inpatient care and has been attacked by residents multiple times.  He’s been kicked, punched in the face, scratched, and most recently, had someone grab and break his glasses.  He doesn’t have a ton of money and was frustrated when his boss told him that they wouldn’t pay for new glasses.

According to my caller, they are understaffed and there aren’t enough people to pay attention to the residents or help him. His boss acts as if this guy is lucky to have this job.

He wanted to know if work comp would cover his new glasses. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.  As we talked more it became clear that he was really anxious about going in to work at all.  I’m not a doctor and don’t try to diagnose people (just like I don’t want doctors giving legal advice) but I did suggest that he talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist.

If his need for mental health treatment is related to being attacked, worker’s compensation would have to pay for it even if he doesn’t have a physical injury that required medical care.  And if his doctor feels that due to his anxiety he needs to be off work, they’d have to pay him until he’s cleared to return. That could be days, weeks, months, or theoretically forever.

This is all true because a physical incident, being attacked, lead in part to a mental breakdown. Would that have happened if his boss was more supportive? Who knows, but we do know that he wasn’t.  When you have a physical injury that leads to a mental breakdown, it’s covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.  And when that happens, it’s a case just like a back injury or any other common work accident.

The point is that workers should be protected and while Illinois work comp laws aren’t perfect, they do help many workers who are getting treated terribly. If not for the job incidents there would be no need for medical care.  And like any other injured worker, he’s allowed to get this care 100% paid for, get compensated for his time off work, and eventually get a settlement.