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Does Stress Classify as a Workplace Injury?

When you think of getting injured on-the-job, you may think of broken bones, lacerations, slip-and-fall incidents and other physical injuries that may occur as a result of an accident. Many people do not consider stress, anxiety, depression and other psychological ailments a workplace injury and therefore eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Yet, psychological injuries can inhibit a person’s ability to work, and, in some cases, can lead to long-term illness. Stress, anxiety, and depression can also manifest into physical problems, including elevated blood pressure, heart disease, headaches, weight gain and insomnia.

There are many things that can cause stress at the workplace, such as working long hours, tension between coworkers, problems with management and a disorganized work environment. In some cases, if your stress is a direct result of an employers’ inability to control certain situations at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

In one case, a teacher was awarded workers’ compensation benefits because she was subjected to an unruly classroom for extended periods of time. The second-grade teacher suffered extreme stress from the class, which led to headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations and nausea. Her personal physician instructed her to avoid returning to work to improve her health; however, the school demanded she return in order to keep her job. The woman stated that the stress experienced from the job later led to the aggravation of her lupus, heart murmur, and a vocal cord injury. She was awarded short-term workers’ compensation benefits as a result of her stress-related injuries.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.