Mental Stress: Can I Get Workers’ Compensation for this in Virginia or Will My Claim be Denied

November 19th, 2022 by admin Leave a reply »

In my 30 years of practice as a Virginia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer, I have had many claimants contact me and say my work or my supervisor is causing me mental stress. Many times these claimants have gone to a psychiatrist or a psychologist for treatment. Often, the impairment has become so severe they have been taken out of work. They want to know can they be compensated for their lost time through the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system. They say (1) my stress happened at work and (2) my doctors say I have lost time and incurred medical bills due to this stress. They say why cannot I be compensated under the workers’ compensation law?

The short answer is “NO” as a general rule mental stress is not compensable. Gradual infliction of mental stress by your work or by your supervisor is not an “accident” or a “disease” under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation law. As defined by the Workers’ Compensation Commission, an “accident” to be compensable must occur at a specific time and thus gradually occurring mental stress cannot qualify as an accident. It is also not an occupational disease unless it can be shown that mental stress is “characteristic” of only that employment which is normally an impossible burden. The Commission has said in the past problems associated with personnel and management are inherent in all employment.

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