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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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