While your job in Oklahoma may be stressful, the state Workers’ Compensation guidelines restricts the coverage it provides for mental health issues, including depression or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Changes to this policy may be on the horizon, at least for some industries. Here’s what you need to know about filing a claim for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a serious potentially debilitating condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist incident, sudden death of a loved one, war, violent personal assault such as rape or other life-threatening events.”
PTSD is a serious mental health disorder that has often been misunderstood; this is reflected in the number of states, including Oklahoma, that do not provide comprehensive Workers’ Compensation coverage for workplace-related PTSD. Since 1980, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been accepted as a clinical diagnosis. It was often called by many names in the past, including “shell shock,” “war neurosis” and “combat fatigue.”
More recently, the medical understanding of PTSD and how it affects people has grown. People in various professions are now recognized to be at risk for PTSD, as well as those suffering from different kinds of traumatic events. This is especially true of first responders.
“While combat veterans often return to the normality of the civilian life after deployment, the job of firefighters, police officers and emergency medical services workers involves regular, routine exposure to all types of traumas, for years and decades of their careers.”
Research shows that a startling 20% of firefighters and other first responders pass the diagnostic threshold for PTSD at some point in their career, in comparison with 6.8% in the general population. This percentage is comparable to combat veterans.
PTSD and Workers’ Compensation
A number of states are responding to this growing understanding of workplace PTSD and enacting laws that include some provisions for coverage through Workers’ Compensation.
- Oklahoma Title 85 Workers’ Compensation 85-308 (2016) Section 10-F currently states, “Compensable injury” shall not include mental injury that does not arise directly as a result of a compensable physical injury, except in the case of rape or other crime of violence which arises out of and in the course of employment. However, Senate Bill 333, which is up before the Oklahoma legislature in 2023, would ensure that Workers’ Compensation covers post-traumatic stress disorder treatments for first responders.
- In 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court set a legal precedent for employees to receive workers’ compensation for PTSD caused by the worker being overworked.
- In 2018, Colorado expanded Workers’ Compensation benefits to any worker who suffers PTSD.
- In 2019, California Senate Bill 592 was enacted to provide Workers’ Compensation for firefighters and law enforcement personnel who sustain occupational PTSD.
Approximately 28 states offer Workers’ Compensation coverage for PTSD or other mental illnesses when they are proven to be a direct result of a physical trauma suffered in the workplace.
How Can I Claim Work-Related PTSD Through Workers’ Compensation?
Under current Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation laws, the burden of proof is on the employee to prove that their condition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is “a result of a compensable physical injury, except in the case of rape or other crime of violence which arises out of and in the course of employment.”
Do you believe your mental health has been affected by a workplace injury in Oklahoma? The skilled Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at The Armstrong Law Firm PLC have the resources and experience you need to prove your case and win the benefits you deserve. Call us at (918) 582-2500 or complete the contact form to schedule a free consultation.