We have all heard the acronym “PTSD” which stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. But what does it really mean? Can you get PTSD on the job? And if so, can you get compensated under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act for that?

PTSD is a health condition that describes the physical and emotional aftereffects of a shocking, traumatic event. One may develop PTSD after experiencing the event or witnessing it.

Symptoms of PTSD can vary from person to person. They may arise soon after the event or it may take months. These symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to perform daily tasks. They cause difficulties in work and social situations and in relationships.

The Mayo Clinic groups PTSD symptoms into four types:

Intrusive memories. This may include recurrent, upsetting memories of the event; distressing nightmares about the event; reliving the traumatic event i.e., flashbacks.

Avoidance. This means trying to avoid thinking or talking about the event, as well as avoiding people, places and/or activities that remind one of the event.

Negative changes in thinking and mood. This may include negative thoughts about oneself, others, or the world in general; a loss of hope regarding the future; problems maintaining close relationships; feeling detached from family and friends; lack of interest in doing activities or hobbies that one used to enjoy; feeling numb emotionally; problems experiencing positive emotions.

Changes in physical and emotional reactions. This may include being easily startled or frightened; always being on guard for danger; sleeplessness; self-destructive behavior, such as binge drinking; trouble concentrating; aggressive behavior, angry outbursts or irritability; extreme guilt or shame.

PTSD on the Job

People often associate PTSD with people who serve in the military, combat veterans, and victims of physical or sexual assault. That makes sense, but the truth is that PTSD affects people in a wide variety of settings, including the workplace.

Being Exposed to Traumatic Events

Police officers, firefighters, and EMTs respond to traumatic events on a regular basis. Arriving at the scene of a gruesome car accident, being shot at, or witnessing a person committing suicide are just a few examples of events that could cause PTSD.

Doctors and nurses also work in roles in which they are exposed to trauma. Life and death situations are not uncommon, especially in the ER, ICU, NICU, and oncology fields.

Witnessing or being in a bad car or truck accident while on the job can cause PTSD. Seeing a co-worker severely injured by machinery or a chemical spill can too.

At times, co-workers’ horrible actions are the cause of the traumatic events.

Planned shootings by disgruntled employees or random shootings at the workplace occur way too often in the United States. Physical assault without a weapon including hitting, kicking, or shoving are other examples. We have helped over 100 people who have been robbed at gun point on the job.

Witnessing or being the victim of sexual harassment or bullying in the workplace can also cause PTSD.
PTSD and Workers Compensation

Whatever the circumstances, someone who has suffered PTSD at work or on the clock may be entitled to workers’ compensation. You cannot sue your employer, but you can seek compensation for your medical care, therapy, prescriptions, and your lost wages. You also would be entitled to a settlement when better as well as job accommodations if needed.

If you have not done this already, it is important to report your condition to your employer. You must also seek medical help. It is not enough to diagnose yourself with PTSD. It has to happen my a medical professional.

If you are experienced any emotional distress from a work related incident, we would be happy to talk to you for free and in confidence. You can reach an attorney any time at 312-346-5578.