We get a lot of calls from potential clients who want to file a workers comp claim because they have a lot of stress at work or their boss is just a jerk and they can’t handle it anymore. The short answer is, “get over it. We’re all stressed!” The long, more legal and politically correct answer is, in order to be compensable, a mental injury must be precipitated by an event that is “unexpected, unusual, or extraordinary stress.”
The proof required for mental injuries is more stringent than that required for physical injuries because of the difficulty in proving a causal connection between mental illness and work-related stress. As the Arizona workers Comp Handbook so eloquently states, “in today’s society, emotional stress has multiple causes. Some are work-related, others are not.
There are two types of emotional stress cases: in the first, the mental injury is caused by a single incident. In the second, the injury producing event is gradual in nature. The former are usually easier to prove compensable. Examples would be where an employee sees a co-worker get shot or die or where the employee hits and kills a pedestrian while on the job. The latter (gradual) are less likely to be accepted because of the difficulty in proving a causal connection.
Summary: if you’re stressed because your boss is a jerk, you’re overworked, your hours got cut, or your co-worker makes annoying nose sounds, man up and get over it.
If you have a truly stressful event at work, call Snow, Carpio, and Weekley at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000.