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Can I Recover For Stress Related Injuries at Work?

20 years ago, Maryland ’s highest court ruled that the worker’s compensation commission may recognize a PTSD claim, so long as the fairly stringent standards of the workers’ compensation statute are met. ” PTSD may be compensable as an occupational disease under the Workers' Compensation Act if the claimant can present sufficient evidence to meet the statutory requirements. See § 9-101(g) (disease must be contracted as the result of and in the course of employment and the disease must cause the employee to become incapacitated); § 9-502(d)(1)(i) (disease must be due to nature of an employment in which the hazards of the occupational disease exist).” Means v. Baltimore Co., 689 A.2d 1238 [MD 1997].

Maryland, moreover, recognizes three categories of “mental”- for lack of a better label, injuries that may be compensable, or covered, under workers’ compensation.

Perhaps the more common is the physical-mental claim, where a physical impact or injury has consequences for the psyche of the worker. In a second scenario, a purely mental stimulus causes physical manifestations to, or in the worker. The final category, the so-called “mental-mental” claim is one in which a mental stimulus causes purely mental ramifications, consequences or sequela for the injured worker. In Means, the court went on to state: “We conclude that PTSD may be compatible with the general character of occupational disease. We have consistently described occupational disease as "some ailment, disorder, or illness which is the expectable result of working under conditions naturally inherent in the employment and inseparable therefrom, and is ordinarily slow and insidious in its approach.” These cases are difficult to prove and typically require expert testimony in the form of an opinion, to a reasonable degree of probability, that the workplace event caused the  psychological disturbance. 

     -This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 11/18/20. 

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