Mental Injuries in the workplace: Am I covered?

In 2008, our firm had the pleasure of representing a woman who was employed where many financial transactions took place and cash passed back and forth.  The established was robbed and our client was placed into a large safe and held at gun point.  Her life was threatened if she called the authorities.  The client was traumatized and suffered serious mental injury such that she could not depart her residence for fear of her life.  The employer instructed her to return within three days and she was not able to do so.  She was eventually terminated.  We were successful in attaining a substantial settlement for her.  mental injury

Under Tennessee law at the time, employees were able to file a workers compensation claim for mental injuries arising out of and during the scope of employment.  Such injuries could be incurred gradually over time due to repeated stress involved at work or by a sudden and identifiable event such as the example of above.  In 2011, the state legislature passed sweeping workers compensation reform deemed more favorable to employers and insurance companies.  A mental injury proximately caused by a physical injury – in other words, the employee suffers a bad physical injury and develops PTSD or depression as a result would be compensable under the statute.

Gradual onset resulting in cumulative stress, emotional, or mental  or injury is no longer covered under the Workers Compensation Act.  There must be an identifiable event or stimulus set out as to time and place to receive benefits.  Upon a proper claim meeting this definition, then our firm can assist a client in attaining a panel of three mental health providers to choose from for treatment.  Upon reaching maximum medical improvement where no further treatment is necessary, we can hopefully be awarded an appropriate impairment rating and disability payment.

Now under the law pursuant to T.C.A. § 50-6-102, an injury is now defined as:

(12) “Injury” and “personal injury”
(A) Mean an injury by accident, arising out of and in the course of employment, that causes either disablement or death of the employee; provided, that:
(i) An injury is “accidental” only if the injury is caused by a specific incident, or set of incidents, arising out of and in the course of employment, and is identifiable by time and place of occurrence; and
(ii) The opinion of the physician, selected by the employee from the employer’s designated panel of physicians pursuant to §§ 50-6-204(a)(4)(A) or (a)(4)(B), shall be presumed correct on the issue of causation but said presumption shall be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence;
(B) Include a mental injury arising out of and in the course of employment; and
(C) Do not include:
(i) A disease in any form, except when the disease arises out of and in the course and scope of employment; or
(ii) Cumulative trauma conditions, hearing loss, carpal tunnel syndrome, or any other repetitive motion conditions unless such conditions arose primarily out of and in the course and scope of employment;
(15) “Mental injury” means a loss of mental faculties or a mental or behavioral disorder where the proximate cause is a compensable physical injury resulting in a permanent disability, or an identifiable work-related event resulting in a sudden or unusual mental stimulus. A mental injury shall not include a psychological or psychiatric response due to the loss of employment or employment opportunities;
About Roland

Roland was born in Nashville, Tennessee and raised in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. The first few years he resided in Paris, France with his mother who was French. In Hendersonville, he attended Beech Senior High School where played soccer and studied in the honors curriculum. Subsequently, he pursued two majors in political science and economics while graduating in three years.

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Law Office of Roland Mumford | 639 East Main Street, Hendersonville, TN 37075 |
We handle personal injury, bankruptcy, divorce, immigration, workers compensation, and social security claims from all across Middle Tennessee, including Music City, Murfreesboro, Franklin, Brentwood, Clarksville, Columbia, Spring Hill, Manchester, McMinnville, Hendersonville, Gallatin, Springfield, Dickson, Fairview, Lebanon, Mount Juliet, Columbia, Shelbyville, Cookeville, Lavergne and Antioch, as well as the counties of Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, Montgomery, Robertson, Maury, Wilson, Sumner, Cheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Giles, Smith, Trousdale, and Macon.