If you’ve suffered a psychological injury at work, then you may be entitled to compensation. If your psychological injury resulted from your employer’s negligence, you may be able to access damages.
Here we explain what types of psychological injuries you may be able to claim for, how to prove your claim, what time limits apply, and what to do if your claim is rejected.
What can cause a psychological injury?
Workplace psychological injuries can be caused by a range of factors, like:
- Excessive workload
- Bullying and harassment
- Toxic workplace environment
- Lack of procedural fairness
- Exposure to a traumatic event
What type of psychological injuries can I claim for?
To access compensation for a psychological injury, you must be diagnosed by a medical practitioner.
Psychiatric injuries can include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Adjustment disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Aggravation of a previous psychological injury
How do you prove psychological injury?
Historically, it has been difficult for a worker to claim for a psychiatric injury. There are often several steps involved in proving the legislative test for an ‘injury’.
This is because many workers are unable to identify just one incident in isolation that caused their injury. Psychological injuries are often complex and can involve many workplace incidences that have accumulated over time.
How to make a successful claim for a psychological injury
To make a successful psychological injury claim, workers must prove their injury occurred during their employment. The worker’s employment must also be “a significant contributing factor” to their injury.
A claim will not be successful if the worker’s injury arises out of:
- Reasonable management action
- A worker’s expectation or perception of reasonable management action
- Action taken by WorkCover, a self-insurer, or the Worker’s Compensation Regulator relating to the worker’s application for compensation.
If the Insurer is satisfied that the worker’s employer has acted reasonably, they may reject the claim.
What if my psychological injury claim is rejected?
If your claim is rejected by WorkCover, we can assist you to apply for a review of their decision.
Sciacca’s Lawyers will obtain and examine the worker’s WorkCover file and advise you of the likelihood of successfully overturning the decision.
Please note, there are strict time limits of three months to lodge this review, – therefore, we highly recommend you seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Under a statutory claim, you may be entitled to compensation regardless of who or what caused the work-related injury.
Benefits under the statutory system can include:
- Hospital and medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Travelling expenses
- Rehabilitation treatment
- A lump sum offer of compensation for any permanent impairment sustained.
If you receive a lump-sum offer you should contact Sciacca’s Lawyers to discuss your rights. In most cases, if the offer is accepted that may stop you from pursuing a common law claim.
Common law claims
Most workers start with a statutory claim and proceed with a common law claim if it can be established that their employer is at fault.
You may be able to access damages for the following through a common law claim:
- Payment for pain and suffering
- Past and future loss of income
- Ongoing treatment
- And other expenses incurred as a result of the psychological injury.
It is important to note that a common-law claim must also be lodged within three years from the date of injury. We recommend getting legal advice as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.
Case study: our client Sally’s psychological injury claim
Sally, 45 – diagnosed with PTSD
Sally was employed in the Child Protection Investigation Unit within the police service for approximately nine years. Sally’s psychological state began to decline due to the traumatic nature of her work.
On multiple occasions, Sally had voiced her mental health concerns to her supervisors and continuously stated that she was not coping with the nature of the work. Despite this, her employer failed to provide adequate supporting services or take any action to remove her from the workplace.
Sally lodged an application for compensation which was accepted by WorkCover. This meant Sally could access WorkCover’s benefits, including medical expenses and time off for psychological treatment. Despite this, Sally’s treating doctor diagnosed that she was unlikely to return to her work with the police service.
Sciacca’s Lawyers successfully brought a common law claim for negligence against Sally’s employer, resulting in a large compensation being awarded.