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Stress and workers' compensation

Employees in New York who experience a high amount of stress in their jobs may have grounds for a workers' compensation claim. Mental stress can be caused by a number of work-related factors, and those that have a negative effect on an employee's ability to perform their job may result in benefits or access to employee assistance programs that help reduce stress.

According to FindLaw, claims related to stress in the workplace usually stem from three main causes: harassment, job-related pressures and job termination. The majority of claims are by employees who are aged 39 and younger, perhaps indicating there are fewer stigmas in regard to mental illness. The claims can typically be placed in three different categories. These include:

  • Those in which mental disability is caused by psychological stress
  • Those in which mental disability is caused by physical stress
  • Those in which physical disability is caused by psychological stress

The problem with mental stress and workers' compensation is it is hard to prove. According to the American Bar Association, mental stress claims are somewhat subjective and vague, which makes it challenging to come up with proof it caused psychological or physical issues. In all states, claimants must show they were employees and that their injuries occurred while at work. Some of the issues with psychological injuries are proving they were caused by stress and to establish they are permanent injuries.

One of the things employees need to show is they experienced stress levels above those normally associated with their particular position. Because the burden of proof falls on the employee and they are hard to prove, opening a claim sometimes results in just more stress.

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Success Stories

  • A 43 year old ironworker who fell four stories and sustained injuries to his ankle while installing a staircase settled his claim for $1,500,000.00. The accident was due to the failure of the building owner and general contractor to provide a safe place to work.
  • A construction worker operating an asphalt roller settled his case for $525,000.00 when the edge of the roadway he was paving collapsed into a trench being dug by a subcontractor causing him to sustain injuries to his leg.
  • A 54 year old commuter settled his case against the NYCTA for $1,200,000.00. when he tripped and fell on a subway platform due to the pavement being in disrepair, causing him to fall forward and to strike his head on a train pulling into the station.
  • The estate of a 64 year old woman received a settlement of $425,000.00 after she was struck and killed by a speeding tractor trailer while crossing the street at the intersection of Richmond Terrace and Port Richmond Avenue.
  • A $1,200,000.00 settlement was reached on behalf of a 54 year old man from Staten Island, New York, who, while in the course of his employment as a bus driver, was rear-ended on the Garden State Parkway and caused to suffer injuries to his back and neck as well as a fractured rib and fractured pelvis.
  • A 47-year-old building superintendent who sustained injuries to his head and right side of his body due to a tripping hazard at his job site received a settlement of $300,000.00 from the electrical company performing work at the site.
  • A 43 year old construction worker was caused to sustain injuries to his back, shoulder and hand when the elevator he was riding malfunctioned and dropped 8 floors. He received $350,000.00 in the settlement of his claim against the building owner, maintenance company and elevator company.
  • The administrator of the estate of a 69 year old man who suffered stage four pressure sores while a patient at a Queens nursing home settled the case for $400,000.00 after the man died.
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