Claiming Psychological Injury

imagesPsychological Injuries caused by workplace incidences can be the hardest to prove.

The reality of claiming a psychological injury is not a pleasant one. Though enough proof exists that the support services required to overcome the majority of psychological illnesses are less costly than the investigation of those claims the Workers Compensation System pursues psychological claims with an almost crusader like zeal. 

1. They are almost always declined in the first instance (and up-held when brought to the Workers Compensation Commission).

2. Increasingly they are being denied provisional liability.

3. They invariably attract an Investigation by a private detective (costing on average  $5,000).

4. They are the most reviewed form of compensation claim with on average three times more compulsory visits to Independent Medical Examiners.

Psychological injuries make up 40% of all claims for workers compensation in NSW. This is despite assumption by the NSW Government that most psychological injuries are only a reaction to adequate management processes.

WorkCover NSW actually summarises the concerns for Psychological claims in their fact sheet on them

[I’ve added my thoughts in the parenthesise]:

Your claim for psychological injury will only be accepted if there is medical evidence to prove that, as a result of your employment, you suffer from a psychological or psychiatric disorder. 

When describing your diagnosis, your doctor should only use accepted medical terminology on the WorkCover certificate of capacity.Imprecise terminology such as the word ‘stress’ should not be used.

-[your doctor will need to use theDSMV4 or DSMV5 guide to assess your injury]
No compensation is payable for a psychological injury if the injury was wholly or predominantly caused by reasonable [the word legal meaning in most cases its your world against theirs] action taken, or proposed to be taken, by or on behalf of the employer with respect to:

  • transfer
  • demotion
  • promotion
  • performance appraisal
  • discipline
  • retrenchment
  • dismissal
  • provision of employment benefits

[Unfortunately it is at these times where most real psychological harm can be done. Most people think about psychological injury as being bullying and harassment what they don’t realise is that most psychological harm has a significant element of system stress within it -i.e. the business system is established in such a way that it in itself harms the worker- despite the efforts of that worker or possibly even the personal ethics of the manager (if you find this hard to believe then think of your reaction to the police force being a “hard job”- it’s not the individual people you are thinking of, its the system). The vast majority of businesses do not have an adequate change plan, nor do they have adequate management training. These two aspects can lead to a system’s abuse of the worker causing psychological harm, yet both can be dismisses if harm does occur due to this inelegant and ignorant piece of writing.]

To receive a lump sum compensation for permanent impairment a worker must have a primary psychological injury with a minimum of 15 per cent whole person impairment.

[If your injury was physical this would be 10%. The Whole Person Impairment methodology doesn’t see a difference between physical or psychological injuries. A WPI of 50% means you can only function at 50% of your pre-injury capacity. it doesn’t delineate between loosing half your body or loosing half your mind. Yet this legislation places psychological injuries as of less importance than a physical one. The mindset of a government rather than any professional medical assessment unfortunately.]