We understand that a psychological or psychiatric injury can be just as debilitating as a physical injury. Under the New South Wales work injury compensation Act, workers who sustain a work-related injury whether those injuries are psychological or physical can claim work injury damages (WID) or workers’ compensation.
If you have suffered a psychological injury and suffer anxiety or depression as a result of your work duties or employment directly causing a psychiatric disorder, you may be eligible to claim workers’ compensation payments (weeklies) and make a personal injury claim.
A WID or work injury damages claim is different to a workers’ compensation claim. A work injury damages claim is a common law claim for damages. The term “damages” describes a lump sum payment a worker may receive via a court order as compensation for injury, loss, or harm suffered.
Where Your Psychological WID Claim May Fail
A claim for work injury damages for depression and anxiety is highly likely to be unsuccessful should your psychological injury be caused by your employer taking reasonable management action in the normal course of your employment. This may include a performance appraisal, demotion, redundancy, dismissal or retrenchment. We’re experts in overcoming these arguments so that your claim is accepted.
However, a successful psychological injury claim may be achieved if it can be proven that your employer was negligent and their negligence caused your depression and anxiety or other mental injuries. Get quality legal advice about your damages claim at PK Simpson today.
The Process of Claiming WID for Psychological Injuries
Claiming WID requires a detailed diagnosis by your treating doctor or psychiatrist/psychologist. However, when diagnosing your psychological injury, your doctor must use the correct medical terms in a Certificate of Capacity form. Workers with a work-related psychological injury can only claim work injury damages for past loss of wages or earnings and an estimated future loss of the capacity to earn a wage or salary. The requirements will not be met sufficiently by using words such as “stress” since these terms are too general.
Work Injury Damages Criteria For Eligibility
According to Sira, this kind of work injury damages compensation may also be called “modified common law damages”. To claim work injury damages for psychological injury, the following criteria must be met:
- Your whole person impairment must be at least 15 per cent and assessed by a permanent impairment assessor with experience, qualifications and training relevant to your psychological injury. This assessment must be accepted by the insurer or determined by the Workers Compensation Commission.
- Your employer must be proven to have been negligent which resulted in your psychological injury.
Before a work injury damages claim can be settled you must have an agreed Whole Person Impairment percentage over 14%. Some work injury damages claims may end up in court, but proceedings for work injury damages should start within three years of either the date of your psychological injury or when you are confirmed over the 14% threshold.
What Can Cause a Psychological Injury?
Workplace injuries are not always physical. A worker suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), anxiety and panic attacks or depression are recognised as having serious work injuries. Psychological or psychiatric injuries can lead to work injury damages if the injury was the result of witnessing a death in the workplace or a serious injury to a coworker and the employer’s negligence led to the accident.
Various forms of abuse that occur in the workplace can also lead to psychological injury and if this happens to you, you may be eligible for compensation for medical expenses and loss of wages:
- Sub-standard physical working conditions.
- Threats to a workers’ job security.
- Refusal to allow holidays or time off work.
- Sexual or other harassment
- Intensive bullying.
Traumatic accidents can also have an associated psychological claim with them. Many claimants who suffered physical injuries in a traumatic accident can have a psychological claim run alongside it.
Bullying and harassment by your employer after a physical injury can also result in a psychological claim. This is a common cause of claims.
WID Settlements Rule Out all Other Compensation Benefits
When a work injury damages payout in NSW is settled, all entitlements to workers’ compensation benefits, which include weekly wage payments and medical, hospital and rehabilitation expenses associated with the psychological injury are extinguished. Also, the weekly payments already made to you will either have to be repaid from the money you receive in your WID settlement or are taken into account when considering a WID settlement. Seek legal advice if you suffer a psychiatric injury at work.
Signs of Psychological Injury
Medical science still isn’t clear on the reasons why psychological injury occurs in some people and does not occur in others. But the signs are being studied and it’s known that someone suffering from an undiagnosed psychological injury or illness may include:
- A loss of interest in things they once felt passionate about or loved.
- A persistent feeling of sadness.
- Restlessness, sleeplessness and being unable to stop worrying.
- Unrealistic fear of germs.
- Constantly needing things to be aligned or in a pattern.
- Unwanted memories or flashbacks relating to a traumatic event.
- Mood changes with no explanation.
- Inability to concentrate for normal periods of time.
- The need to have background noise like a TV on at all times.
- Feelings of helplessness.
- Loss of interest in your physical appearance.
- Relationship breakdowns.
- Reduced social life.
How are Psychological Injuries Treated?
Treatment for psychological injuries includes therapy sessions with a registered psychiatrist or psychologist, medication and/or lifestyle changes. However, the road to psychological health can be long and rocky, especially for sufferers of PTSD, whose symptoms can include acute anxiety and depression.
If you suffered a psychological injury, or a psychiatric or psychological disorder as a result of an incident or accident at work – or a series of mentally damaging situations – caused or worsened the situation, file a workers’ compensation claim for damages.
Contact our psychological injury claims lawyers today so we can begin your claim for psychological injury damages as soon as possible.
We also have access to experienced psychiatrists who can evaluate you in light of the PIRS criteria which is required in all psychological claims.