PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a surprisingly common condition, and not just for veterans. While veterans who saw active combat are one of the groups with the highest incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder, you could also suffer debilitating post-traumatic stress symptoms from abuse, violence, or traumatic accidents. If you were injured on the job or suffered a traumatic workplace accident that left you with symptoms of PTSD that make it hard to work, talk to our Fort Smith PTSD workers’ compensation lawyer today.
Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, helps injured workers and workers suffering from other work-related illnesses and conditions seek workers’ compensation coverage for their needs. For help with your case, contact our law offices today at (479) 316-0438 to schedule a free legal consultation.
Qualifying for Workers’ Compensation with PTSD in Arkansas
Fortunately for many injured workers, you can file for workers’ compensation for PTSD. However, to qualify for coverage, you will need to meet a few criteria:
PTSD from Physical Injuries
Arkansas’ Workers’ Compensation Act, under AR Code § 11-9-113(a)(1), requires that “[a] mental injury or illness” must have been the result of a physical injury to get you workers’ compensation coverage. This means that if you have PTSD because of an injury you physically received, you can get compensation – but if the PTSD was caused by something you witnessed or because other people were injured in the accident, you cannot get coverage.
For instance, claims have been denied in cases like Amlease, Inc. v. Kuligowski (1997) where the injured worker had PTSD from killing another driver in an auto accident. Since the PTSD was the result of the other person’s death and not the injuries the worker sustained, the court denied his workers’ compensation claim for PTSD. Talk to a lawyer – and your psychologist or psychiatrist – for help understanding the cause of your PTSD and whether your psychological disorder qualifies for workers’ comp.
PTSD from Violence or Crime
Although the Workers’ Compensation Act typically requires you to have a physical injury before it can cover mental disorders like PTSD, there is a specific exception for PTSD from violence or crime. PTSD that comes about because of workplace violence or other crimes committed against you in the workplace should be covered by workers’ compensation even if the PTSD did not result from physical injuries. However, injuries caused by violence or intentional acts fall into exceptions under the workers’ comp. rules that may allow you to sue your employer or the perpetrator of the crime instead of relying on workers’ comp. Talk to a lawyer about your best path to compensation.
Definition of PTSD for Workers’ Comp.
AR Code § 11-9-113(a)(2) sets out how workers’ compensation defines mental disorders. To have your mental condition qualify for coverage in Arkansas, you must first have a diagnosis from a psychiatrist or psychologist. Your attorney can help you figure out how to get a consultation to get this diagnosis and support your workers’ comp. claim.
The statute also says where you can find the definition of mental disorders like PTSD: the DSM. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is one of the standard books that psychologists and psychiatrists across the U.S. use to define mental disorders. The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Act requires that your mental condition meets the most recent version of the DSM’s definition, which means meeting the DSM-V’s definition of PTSD.
Under the DSM-V, there are multiple requirements for a PTSD diagnosis. Typically, you must first meet an appropriate cause for PTSD, which can include any experience being involved in, witnessing, or hearing about violence, death, injury, or sexual violation. Next, you must have “intrusive” symptoms including at least one of the following:
- Recurring memories of the event that upset you and come without thinking about them
- Severely upsetting dreams relating to the event
- Flashbacks to the event or dissociation
- Distress from triggers related to the event
- Physical reactions to triggers (e.g., sweating, increase heart rate, passing out)
Avoidance of the triggers (thoughts, places, people, etc.) and symptoms relating to your thoughts and behaviors must also be present to afford a PTSD diagnosis, including any of the following symptoms:
- Repressed memories
- Lack of happiness or joy
- Self-destructive behaviors
- Heightened attentiveness to danger
- Trouble concentrating
- Sleep problems
If these interfere with your life in a significant way because of the trauma you experienced, you should qualify for a PTSD diagnosis to support a workers’ comp. claim.
Coverage for Workers’ Comp. for PTSD in Arkansas
Since a claim for workers’ comp. for PTSD must have a physical injury as the basis, you will likely already qualify for workers’ comp. from the injury alone. Many people who suffer PTSD from a physical injury suffer very serious injuries, such as paralysis, traumatic amputation, or brain injuries. These injuries, even without PTSD, can often lead to workers’ compensation to cover all medical expenses, lost wages while you recover, and future lost wages you will miss because of a permanent injury. Lost wages are covered at 66 2/3% of your average weekly wage before the incident.
If your injury was not severe enough to receive workers’ compensation but still caused severe PTSD that keeps you from working, you may still be able to receive compensation for the medical and psychiatric care costs related to the PTSD and missed wages (at the same 66 2/3% rate).
Call Our Fort Smith PTSD Workers’ Comp. Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD after being involved in a workplace accident or after being the victim of violence or a serious crime in the workplace, talk to our Fort Smith PTSD workers’ compensation attorney today. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, is an experienced workers’ comp. lawyer in Arkansas who may be able to fight to get you qualified for coverage. Your workers’ comp. benefits may cover your medical and psychiatric costs as well as support you while you are unable to work. For a free legal consultation, call our law offices today at (479) 316-0438.