Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Psychological Injuries In Illinois?

Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Psychological Injuries In Illinois?

After suffering a work injury in Illinois, you can file a workers’ compensation claim and recover benefits. When people think of work-related injuries, they only think of physical injuries. However, an employee may also have the right to claim psychological injuries in a workers’ compensation case. So the answer to the question, “Does workers’ compensation cover psychological injuries in Illinois?” is workers’ compensation can cover psychological injuries in Illinois.

Not all psychological injuries are covered under Illinois workers’ compensation law. There are generally only three situations when psychological injuries are compensable under Illinois workers’ compensation law. These three situations are discussed below.

Mental Harm Arising From Physical Injury

Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, psychological injuries are compensable if the injuries are related to and caused by a physical injury. This theory is called the “physical-mental” theory. Under this theory, for a worker’s psychological injury to be compensable, the physical harm doesn’t need to be severe. Even if an employee sustained a psychological injury after suffering a minor physical injury, their mental injury might be compensable. Additionally, even if a physical injury is just one of the many causes of an employee’s psychological injury, an employee’s psychological injury may still be compensable.

Mental Harm Arising From Sudden Shock

Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, psychological injuries are also compensable under the “mental-mental” theory. “Mental-mental” cases can be divided into two. First, a psychological injury is compensable if it comes after a one-time shocking, severe, work-related event.

Suppose a shocking, severe, one-time, work-related event happens, and it takes time for a mental injury to manifest. You may wonder, is the psychological injury compensable? Yes, such a psychological injury would still be compensable. For a psychological injury to be compensable, it must not have manifested immediately. As long as the severe, shocking, one-time, work-related event is to blame for the psychological injury, the mental injury is still compensable, even if there is a gap between the shock and resulting mental harm.

Mental Harm Arising From a Series of Stressors at a Greater Level Than Usual

The second “mental-mental” case arises when a psychological injury arises due to a series of stressors at a greater level than usual. Illinois courts do not award compensation for psychological injuries that occur over time in the normal course of employment. The basic rule when it comes to work-related mental harm is that the normal daily stressors every worker experiences are insufficient to qualify for compensable psychological injury. However, if a psychological injury occurred because an employee was exposed to workplace stressors that are more serious than the usual stressors all workers experience, and the higher-level stress compared to non-employment conditions is the primary cause of the mental injury, the injury could be considered compensable.

An example of a case where the court determined an employee was eligible for benefits under this theory is the case of Chicago Transit Authority v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. In this case, the court concluded that the driver who developed PTSD was eligible for benefits because he suffered the condition after being exposed to a series of experiences with high school passengers who were violent, dangerous, and aggressive. This is not something that all or most drivers experience.

Contact a Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

It can be hard to recover workers’ compensation benefits after suffering a mental injury. That is why it is crucial to hire an attorney to help. Our skilled and dedicated Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer at Connolly Injury lawyer is here for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


By Connolly Injury Law |

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