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Is PTSD Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?

Colburn Law

When you experience a workplace injury, the consequences can extend far beyond the physical pain you endure. From the emotional toll to the financial burden, these injuries can have a significant impact on your life. Fortunately, workers’ compensation insurance can help pay for the lost wages, medical expenses, and other losses that you experienced as a result of the injury.

After a workplace accident, many people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious mental health condition that requires extensive medical care and support. If you were diagnosed with PTSD because of work, it is common to wonder: is PTSD covered under workers’ compensation?

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD is a psychological condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. PTSD is characterized by a range of symptoms that can significantly impact an individual’s daily life and overall well-being:

  • Flashbacks: Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experience vivid and distressing memories of the traumatic event, causing them to relive the experience.
  • Nightmares: Recurring nightmares related to the traumatic event are common among those with PTSD, disrupting sleep and leading to increased anxiety.
  • Avoidance: People with PTSD may avoid places, activities, or situations that remind them of the traumatic event, in an attempt to minimize distress.
  • Hyperarousal: Heightened states of anxiety, irritability, and exaggerated startle responses are typical symptoms of PTSD.
  • Emotional numbness: Individuals may feel detached, emotionally numb, or experience a reduced range of emotions as a coping mechanism.
  • Hypervigilance: A constant sense of danger or heightened alertness, always being on guard, and difficulty concentrating are signs of hypervigilance associated with PTSD.

PTSD Is Covered If It Was Caused by a Single Traumatic Event

Washington law allows workers to secure benefits for medical care associated with PTSD if the condition was caused by a single, traumatic event. The event must be related to the employee’s job duties.

For example, say that a worker suffers a catastrophic accident at work and loses a limb. In the months following the accident, the worker begins to develop symptoms of PTSD and can no longer engage in activities that remind him of the accident. In this situation, he would be able to claim benefits for PTSD arising from a single incident.

PTSD Is Not Covered If It Was Caused by Workplace Stress

In Washington, workers are not permitted to file a workers’ compensation claim if PTSD is caused by a stressful workplace environment. To receive benefits for this condition, PTSD must have been caused by a single, traumatic event.

However, a law was passed in 2019 that allows first responders to file a claim for PTSD caused by cumulative stress. If you are an emergency medical service worker, police officer, firefighter, or another first responder, you can pursue compensation under this law.

Contact an Attorney for Clarity on Your PTSD Claim

Washington’s laws regarding PTSD and workers’ compensation can be complex. If you want to pursue a PTSD claim after a workplace incident, it is important to contact an attorney specializing in workers’ compensation and personal injury law

A Washington workers’ comp lawyer can guide you through the claims process and advocate for your right to benefits. After receiving medical care, contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.