If My Work Causes Me Mental, Emotional, or Psychological Injury, Is That Covered by Worker’s Compensation?

Jul 14 2023

Unfortunately, many employees find themselves in situations where their mental and emotional health and well-being are negatively affected by their employment. Most of the time, though, employees in Connecticut are not entitled to recover worker’s compensation benefits for these mental and emotional injuries – even when those conditions are caused by the workplace. In the past, even employees who were subjected to horrific experiences in the workplace were typically only entitled to benefits when the mental or emotional injury was caused by a physical injury or disease. First responders – such as police and firefighters – were the only category of employees who qualified for benefits for mental or emotional injuries, and only in certain situations.

Recently, however, Connecticut passed a law providing for expanded protections for all employees, not just first responders, who suffer from a mental, emotional, or psychological injury in the workplace. This is good news, although the protections are still relatively limited. In order to be covered, employees must be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and have experienced one of six specific circumstances to qualify. Those circumstances are:

  • “View[ing] a deceased minor”;
  • “Witness[ing] the death of a person or an incident involving the death of a person”;
  • “Witness[ing] an injury to a person who subsequently dies before or upon admission at a hospital as a result of the injury”;
  • Having “physical contact with and treat[ing] an injured person who subsequently dies before or upon admission at a hospital as a result of the injury”;
  • “Carr[ying] an injured person who subsequently dies before or upon admission at a hospital as a result of the injury”; and
  • “Witness[ing] a traumatic physical injury that results in the loss of a vital body part or a vital body function that results in permanent disfigurement of the victim.”

If these categories apply, an employee suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder is eligible for Connecticut worker’s compensation benefits. But if none of these circumstances apply, employees in Connecticut are still unable to recover for emotional or mental injuries caused by the workplace. The new law is a good step forward, but there is a way to go before such injuries are fully compensable.

Separately, if your workplace mental, emotional, or psychological distress was caused by an illegal employment action, such as discrimination or sexual harassment, then you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries outside of the worker’s compensation context.

If you want more information about whether your employment situation might be covered by worker’s compensation, or whether your employer might have violated any applicable laws causing you emotional distress, the lawyers at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald, & Pirrotti are here to help.

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