The majority of Americans have heard of the medical condition called Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The phrase is most frequently associated with veterans that are returning home after witnessing the horrors of war. But what most people don’t realize is that any traumatic event can result in PTSD – even an accident that occurred on the job.
Facts About PTSD
Everyone is different. What might seem trivial to one person can cause extreme stress and depression in another. In the U.S.A., PTSD:
- Impacts about 20% of the population at some point during their lifetime.
- Affects 8 million adults every year.
- Is more likely to be developed by a woman than a man – 10 out of 100 women are diagnosed with PTSD and 4 out of 100 men are diagnosed.
Researchers have determined that if you experience one of the following, you may develop PTSD:
- If you witnessed or were the victim of a trauma.
- If you were seriously injured.
- If the trauma you experienced made you believe that your life may be in danger or the life of a loved one.
- If the reaction you had to the trauma was a strong one – shaking, crying, vomiting, or passing out.
The Four Main Symptoms
In some cases, the symptoms of can begin almost immediately after the accident. For others, signs of the condition don’t appear for several weeks or even months. This may include:
- Re-experiencing Symptoms: The patient may have nightmares about their trauma or a certain trigger might cause them to have a flashback while awake.
- Avoidance: If a location or person brings back memories of the trauma, it is not uncommon for the patient to go out of their way to avoid seeing that trigger.
- Depression: The patient’s overall view on the world can change completely and they may feel sadness, fear, or guilt. They may lose all interest in activities they previously enjoyed.
- Hyperarousal: While some may take this as a sexual term, the fact is that hyperarousal simply means that the patient is on high alert all the time, unable to relax for fear that some dangerous incident may suddenly occur if they aren’t paying attention.
These symptoms can be debilitating and can disrupt everyday activities and lifestyles. Thankfully, doctors are learning more and more about PTSD and there are a number of treatments that are available. Typically a combination of psychotherapy and counseling is recommended as well as medication.
How PTSD Can Happen At Work
You might be thinking “What could possibly happen at work to cause PTSD?”. The answer is – a lot of accidents happen every day that could shock even the most stable of workers. Examples of some of the traumas our clients have experienced include:
- Seeing a co-worker fall from scaffolding several floors to the ground below and sustain serious injuries.
- A teacher who was involved in an attack at a school.
- A worker whose clothing got caught in factory machinery causing a limb to be amputated.
- An attack on a nurse by one of her own patients.
One minute, these hardworking individuals were happily going about their day, the next, they feel like their lives are completely out of control and are suffering from both emotional and physical trauma. No one is 100% safe, regardless of the type of job they perform each day.
If your doctor diagnoses you with PTSD after a workplace accident or injury, you may be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits completely cover the cost of any medical treatments associated with the condition and may provide a fraction of lost wages.
In order to obtain workers’ compensation, you will likely need to provide:
- Medical records showing that you have officially been diagnosed.
- A copy of the report detailing the accident that you witnessed or were injured by.
- A copy of any workers’ compensation forms that you have filed.
- Any bills for treatments or medications that are associated with the medical condition.
The majority of all employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance. It is important that you inform your employer of your condition and request the appropriate forms as soon as possible.
Does The Insurance Company Need All Of My Records?
No. If you have been contacted by an adjuster and they asked for your complete medical history, don’t give it to them. Adjusters are trained to find ways to deny a claim and one of those ways is to try and find another medical reason that you may have been diagnosed with PTSD. It is also a good idea to contact an attorney who can communicate on your behalf with the insurance company.
What if My Employer Is Contesting The Claim?
It is not uncommon for an employer to be skeptical about your claim. In fact, until 1980, PTSD wasn’t even a recognized medical condition and many doctors doubted its existence. Thankfully, today we know different. If your employer is contesting your claim, you should immediately contact an attorney who can work with you to ensure that you get the benefits you need as quickly as possible.
How An Attorney Can Help You
While hiring an attorney might not be the first thought in the mind of someone who was injured on the job, there are clear benefits to consulting one as soon as possible. From the very beginning, an attorney can:
- Determine if the injuries or illnesses you are suffering from qualify you for workers’ compensation.
- Help you correctly fill out forms. This may not seem like a big deal, but a large portion of denied claims come from a mistake made on the claim form.
- They can help you appeal a denied claim.
- They can file a personal injury lawsuit. If there was a party whose negligence resulted in your condition other than your employer, it may be possible to pursue legal action against them.
- They can explain any other benefits that you may qualify for.
What Is A Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A personal injury claim is filed when one person is harmed because of the actions of another. When it comes to workplace accidents, this may mean that a contractor created an unsafe workplace because they failed to follow OSHA safety standards or the manufacturer of a tool failed to discover a defect in their product.
If the defendant offers a settlement agreement or if the court awards the plaintiff damages, this may provide compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, physical pain and suffering, and emotional trauma.
Whether it be a personal injury case or a workers’ compensation claim, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you have limited time to submit the paperwork for these claims. If you have questions about the statute of limitations, consult an attorney.
Isn’t Hiring An Attorney Expensive?
The good thing about workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers is that their fee comes directly out of any compensation that you are awarded. This way, you aren’t left with additional out of pocket expenses. You will be informed of the fees prior to hiring a lawyer so that there are no surprises.
How Much Can I Obtain?
This is an excellent, commonly asked question that does not have a simple answer. Every case is different and the losses sustained by every injured employee are different. A reasonable estimate can be given once the case has been reviewed.
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