How You May Develop Work-Related PTSD


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. Historically, PTSD has been associated with military combat.

However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that PTSD can also develop as a result of workplace trauma. Workers in some occupations might also be more likely than others to develop this condition.

In California, workers who develop work-related PTSD may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Keep reading to learn more.

Causes of Work-Related PTSD

Many factors that can contribute to the development of work-related PTSD. Some of the most common causes of work-related PTSD include:

  • Workplace violence: Workers who experience or witness violence on the job, such as assault, robbery, or a shooting, may develop work-related PTSD.
  • Traumatic events: Workers who are involved in traumatic events on the job, such as a serious accident, natural disaster, or terrorist attack, may develop work-related PTSD.
  • Sexual harassment or assault: Workers who experience sexual harassment or assault on the job may develop work-related PTSD.

Those who may have an above-average likelihood of developing PTSD due to workplace conditions or experiences include:
First responders: Workers in the emergency services, such as police officers, firefighters, and paramedics, are at increased risk of developing work-related PTSD due to their exposure to traumatic events.
Other high-stress jobs: Workers in other high-stress jobs, such as healthcare workers or those in the military, may also develop work-related PTSD due to their exposure to traumatic events.

Seeking Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Work-Related PTSD

Under California law, workers who develop work-related PTSD may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. To qualify for benefits, the worker must demonstrate that their PTSD was caused by their job-related duties or events. They should also take these steps:

  • Seek medical treatment: The worker should seek medical treatment for their PTSD as soon as possible. They should inform their healthcare provider that their condition is work-related and request that their medical records reflect this.
  • Notify their employer: The worker should notify their employer of their work-related PTSD as soon as possible. This can be done verbally, but it’s often better to notify an employer in writing so that said worker has a record of letting their employer know about their condition.
  • File a workers’ compensation claim: The worker should file a workers’ compensation claim with the California Division of Workers’ Compensation. They should provide evidence to support their claim, such as medical records and witness statements.
  • Attend medical evaluations: The worker may be required to attend medical evaluations as part of their workers’ compensation claim. These evaluations will be used to determine the extent of the worker’s PTSD and their eligibility for benefits.
  • Attend a workers’ compensation hearing: If the worker’s claim is denied, they have the right to attend a workers’ compensation hearing to present evidence and argue their case.

Be aware that proving you developed PTSD as a result of workplace experiences can be challenging. This is one of many reasons it’s wise to enlist the help of a California workers’ compensation attorney when seeking benefits. At the Law Offices of Kropach & Kropach, we’re prepared to help you navigate this complex terrain. For more information, contact us online or call us at 818-609-7005.

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