The recent conflict in the Ohio legislature over workers’ compensation coverage for first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) turns a spotlight on the larger issues of mental health workers’ compensation coverage.
While some mental health services are covered under Ohio worker’s compensation, Ohio law places strict limits on the availability of these services.
In short, therapy and other mental health services are only covered by workers’ compensation if the psychological issues were triggered by a physical on-the-job injury or occupational disease.
That means Ohio workers who suffer mental health issues as a result of purely stress-related work experiences without a physical injury are generally not entitled to workers’ compensation coverage for associated medical care, nor for other workers’ compensation benefits such as temporary total disability payments.
Possible Provision for First Responders
Earlier this summer, the Ohio House of Representatives passed a provision that would have created workers’ compensation coverage for police and firefighters suffering from work-induced PTSD. However, the Senate stripped out the provision before passing the bill, leaving those on the front lines unprotected.
While the discussion is still underway and a separate bill may fill that gap in coverage for first responders, most Ohio workers won’t be protected even if it passes.
However, Ohio workers suffering from work-induced mental health issues may have other options.
Help for Ohio Workers Facing Mental Health Issues
Mental Health Issues Related to Physical Injury
Physical trauma or chronic medical condition may trigger psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. While Ohio workers’ compensation doesn’t cover treatment for mental health issues in isolation, therapy and medication for mental health conditions arising out of physical injury or an occupational illness may be covered as a part of the larger claim.
Exactly what type of injury might be sufficient to create a combined claim for the physical injury and resulting mental health issues may be unclear, so it’s best to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if you are unsure whether your condition may be eligible for coverage. Your employer is typically not a good source of this information, as your manager or human resources representative may not fully understand the nuances involved in this type of claim.
Other Possible Remedies for Victims of On-the-Job Stress or Trauma
While work-related mental health issues typically aren’t covered by workers’ compensation in Ohio, there are many situations in which an employer may be directly liable for psychological harm. For example, the employer may be responsible for the psychological harm caused by:
- Sexual harassment in the workplace
- Race-based abuse or racial discrimination
- Workplace bullying that is not managed in accordance with the employer’s policies
These are just a few examples of situations in which an employer may be liable for mental health issues triggered by the work environment.
Employment and Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
At Dworken & Bernstein, our attorneys are well-versed in both Ohio workers’ compensation law and potential state and federal claims against employers.
When you consult with our firm, you needn’t worry about trying to figure out which type of claim you may have and whether you should be talking with a workers’ compensation attorney or an employment discrimination lawyer. We’ll assess the situation and explain your options, whichever law they fall under.
If you feel you or a loved one may qualify and benefit from submitting a mental health workers’ compensation claim reach out to the expert workers’ compensation attorneys team of Dworken and Bernstein.
The information presented in this post is not legal advice and does not form a lawyer/client relationship. Laws and circumstances can differ and change.
Please contact us for a personal review of your situation