People who suffer from physical, emotional or mental ailments caused by stress at work may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania.
Many people are aware of workers’ compensation and the benefits they provide for people who are injured while on the job. Not only are these benefits available to eligible employees who suffer from workplace injuries, including repercussions from a fall, laceration or equipment malfunction, they may also be awarded to people who suffer from extreme stress as a result of their occupation. There are a myriad of professions in Pennsylvania where stress is simply a part of the job. Yet if an employee suffers undue stress because of harassment or bad working conditions, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits as well.
According to Business Insurance, a Pennsylvania court awarded benefits to a second-grade teacher in Philadelphia, who experienced severe stress that manifested into physical ailments. The teacher ultimately resigned from the elementary school due to the high-stress environment and found a position at another school. She reported that the stress from a challenging class of children had caused headaches, nausea, dizziness and heart palpitations. She also claimed that the intense atmosphere aggravated her heart murmur and lupus, and injured her vocal cords.
When does stress qualify for workers’ compensation benefits?
Unlike a missing limb or broken bone, psychological stress may be harder to prove. Stress is subjective, and people differ significantly in their ability to handle and deal with stress. In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, however, the employee must prove that the stress they are suffering from is undoubtedly work-related, according to the American Bar Association. The worker must also prove that the work-related stress hinders his or her ability to perform or has resulted in permanent physical, mental or emotional impairment.
The effects of stress
PsychCentral.com reported that when people are exposed to stress over a long period of time, the effects can be serious. Some people are able to handle stress better than others, and in these cases, people may not ever develop the physical manifestations of anxiety. Yet, people who are high-stress reactors may be at a greater risk for developing heart problems, high blood pressure, chronic pain, obesity, skin problems, diabetes and infertility. In some cases, these conditions may be considered a work-related injury.
How an attorney can help
Proving that your stressful occupational environment and profession has resulted in chronic impairments may be difficult. However, you may very well qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in the state of Pennsylvania. A workers’ compensation attorney may be helpful in exploring your options when it comes to applying for these benefits. Not only can an attorney help to ensure that your paperwork is filled out correctly, but he or she may be able to walk you through the legal process.