It should come as no surprise that immediately after a severe and debilitating workplace injury, you might experience feelings of loss, depression, and anxiety. This adjustment period can have a steep learning curve as you struggle to find the new normal. You may experience the pain of your injury, fears about how well you will heal (or if you will heal), worry over keeping your job, and anxiety about being able to pay rent and bills and support your family.
You might assume that your depression will decrease as you learn to adapt. For some, this will be true. However, studies show that mental illness can hang on long after the physical injury. What exactly is meant by mental illness, and how does it affect workplace injury victims more than the general population? Let’s explore.
What Is Mental Illness?
The Webster’s Dictionary defines mental illness as a condition of cognitive disorganization or distress severe enough to disrupt normal thought, mood, behavior, relationships, and ability to function.
Symptoms may include:
- Severe depression
- Inability to focus
- PTSD (If the injury was especially traumatic)
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal thoughts
How Does Mental Distress Affect Healing?
The National Library Of Medicine reports higher psychological stress can negatively impact the healing process, resulting in “longer hospital stays, more postoperative complications, and higher rates of rehospitalization.” The Wound Care Learning Network shows how psychological distress inhibits the production of cells that repair damage, lowers the immune system, restricts blood flow to the wound site, and increases the chance of infection.
Why Doesn’t Workers Comp Want To Address Mental Health?
Worker’s Compensation wants to pay as little as possible to satisfy the necessary standard of care. They only want to treat the injury they can definitively link to the workplace incident that caused it. Mental health is a complex issue and may have coexisting contributing factors, such as family stress, that seem unrelated to the injury.
Yet, if the goal is to speed recovery and get the employee back to work as soon as possible, then including mental health care is a logical step. Mental health specialists teach their patients how to manage stress, calm themselves, and focus on recovery rather than their limitations. These skills may benefit the patient in multiple areas of their life, including in workplace injury recovery.
Should you experience mental distress sufficient enough to disrupt your life, talk to your Worker’s Compensation case worker about adding mental health care to your treatment. Although Worker’s Compensation is usually resistant to covering mental health issues, there have been many cases where they have provided compensation. This is especially true for claims where the mental health condition is clearly related to the workplace injury.
When Is It Time To Call A Job Injury Attorney?
For best results, it is better to involve your attorney from the start of the claim for several reasons.
- Having a job accident benefits attorney will force Workers Comp to treat your claim seriously. While they may cut corners when dealing with someone unfamiliar with their rights, they know they can’t get away with that if you have knowledgeable representation.
- They can coach you before recorded interviews with the claims representative so you don’t inadvertently say something that might lessen your claim. Claims adjusters can use recordings and take what you said out of context.
- An attorney will guide you through the claim process, ensuring the proper paperwork and evidence of your injury are submitted promptly.
- They will review any legal documentation Worker’s Comp may give you to prevent you from signing away your right to a proper settlement.
- If you do develop a mental health condition in response to your injury, your attorney can help you get benefits. Often, it requires shrewd legal work to link your mental health disorder to your workplace injury, but a skilled Worker’s Compensation lawyer will help you build an evidence-based case.
What Should You Do After A Workplace Injury?
You must take certain steps directly after the injury. If you are hurt too badly to do the following, ask a coworker or family member to help you.
- Report the injury to your supervisor or human resources specialist. If these employees have to call an ambulance or they witnessed the accident, this step is already in motion, but you should still take the time to submit a formal written report and keep a copy.
- Seek medical attention. The hospital records are crucial to proving that your injury came from the accident, not a preexisting condition. Stop work immediately and see a doctor (as recommended by your employer). Keep a copy of the discharge papers, which should indicate the cause and severity of the injury.
- Follow ALL of the doctor’s instructions precisely. If you skip anything in the prescribed treatment regimens, Workers Comp can claim your injuries are worse than they would have been had you obeyed the doctor’s orders.
- Refer all communication to your work related injury attorney and only attend meetings or give recorded interviews over the phone with your attorney present. They will protect your rights at every step.
If you’d like more information or need a lawyer, google “job injury benefits attorney near me” or click HERE to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Worker’s Compensation attorneys in the greater Las Vegas area.