Georgia law is presently very clear that you cannot recover workers’ compensation benefits for a claim where there is only a mental injury. In fact, this is the law in most of the United States.
However, it appears that the tide may be turning to allow for such a claim.
Lawmakers in Connecticut have recently submitted a bill that would allow for mental-only workers’ compensation claims.
Georgia mental work injury claims
Georgia law currently states that there must be a physical injury associated with the mental injury for the mental aspect of the claim to be compensable. The law is very clear about this.
If there is a physical injury, treatment for the medical claim could include therapy sessions, medication, or other types of behavioral testing that the authorized treating doctor deems appropriate.
For example, we recently were called about a case where an individual wanted to bring a claim for their mental anguish after a robbery had taken place at their job. The prospective client had been held up at gunpoint while working as a clerk at a convenience store.
Fortunately for them, they were located behind a glass divider and did not sustain any physical injuries. Unfortunately, they have not been able to sleep soundly since the accident. They keep replaying the incident in their head and have been unable to work or sleep.
This is a tragic situation where workers’ compensation will not cover the mental health treatment necessary for the individual to return to work and sleep soundly once again.
Sadly, in this scenario, if the store clerk had sustained even minimal physical damage such as a cut or a bruise, and received medical treatment for it under workers’ compensation, then all of their treatment would have been paid for by workers’ compensation. This treatment could have included visiting a psychiatrist and being prescribed sleep medication.
The case for changing Georgia’s workers’ comp laws
It is important to note that treatment for a mental injury can continue long after the physical injury has subsided. There does not have to be contiguous treatment for the physical and mental injury. This is one of the reasons why we believe Georgia’s law should be changed to reflect what the Connecticut legislature has requested.
Mental injuries are real, and a perfunctory physical injury should not prevent an injured worker from bringing a claim.
If you have any questions about this or any other topics as they relate to workers’ compensation, don’t hesitate to contact the Georgia work injury attorneys at Gerber & Holder.