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May I be compensated for a work-related psychiatric injury?, P.2

In our last post, we began speaking about the issue of psychiatric injury and when exactly on-the-job psychiatric injuries are compensable under California’s workers’ compensation law.

In addition to the requirements mentioned last time, it is also important for readers to realize that an employee, to be eligible for workers’ compensation for a psychiatric injury, must have been employed by the employer for a minimum of six months, either continuously or discontinuously. The only cases in which this requirement does not apply are those where the injury was caused by conditions of employment which are deemed to be sudden and extraordinary.  

As we noted, last time, the determination of the causation of psychiatric injuries is an important issue. Because of this, there are certain requirements that must be followed by an evaluating physician. For one thing, physicians who are examining a worker for psychiatric injury are required to take down a detailed history of the patient.

The history is supposed to include things like the employee’s personal problems, developmental history, job history and satisfaction, and his or her ability to function in other settings. All of this is considered to be relevant to the factors contributing to the psychiatric injury. As we noted last time, at least 51 percent of these factors must be actual event of employment for the injury to be compensable, except in cases where violent acts are involved.

In determining the degree to which a psychiatric injury is caused by workplace events, a variety of sources may be consulted, including personnel records, statements from co-workers and family members, military records, and so on. Workers’ compensation examiners are particularly concerned about an employee’s exaggeration of the injury or minimization of the symptoms, as well and potential ulterior motives for seeking compensation.

In our next post, we’ll take a look at a specific case of workplace psychiatric injury and how these requirements may have factored into the decision.

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