Disabilities & Workers’ Compensation
In California Workers’ Compensation Law, the term “disability” carries with it many different meanings. Many times, as an Injured Worker, you are frequently asked questions by family, friends, and co-workers, such as “what is your disability?” or “how much is your disability?”
Many Law Enforcement and Safety Personnel, while performing their usual and customary duties, encounter experiences which can trigger PTSD. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is a Psychiatric Disorder which most likely would give rise to a workers’ compensation claim of injury and trigger eligibility for benefits.
This article is intended to discuss PTSD and the interplay it has for Law Enforcement and Safety Personnel and their right to benefits under the workers’ compensation system.
“You Can’t Handle the Truth?”
In California Workers’ Compensation Law, Injured Workers who have emotional, stress or mental health claims may attend a Psychological Evaluation by a mental health practitioner. Frequently, these reports contain language within them similar to this language:
“This psychiatric mental health report is confidential and privileged. This report is meant for the use of qualified professionals only and those with the need to know. If the applicant wishes to review this report, he or she should only review it under the supervision of a therapist or psychiatrist because the report may be easily misinterpreted by the applicant. Some individuals and family members may misunderstand and/or distort the information in this report. This may result in the significant psychological harm to the applicant or may interfere with treatment and recovery from illness. For individuals with self-destructive or violent tendencies, the consequences of disclosure of this report may be serious. Persons breaching the confidential nature of this report are acting against medical advice and assume any and all risks and liabilities of doing so.” Continue reading
This article will discuss the communication between you, the Injured Worker, and your treating doctor.
One of the Largest Insurers in the State of California, the State Compensation Insurance Fund, issued a publication intended for their physicians who treat injured workers. This publication includes a discussion concerning communications with injured workers. It is called “A TREATING PHYSICIAN’S GUIDE to Patient Care in the Workers’ Compensation System.”
The publication states that “[o]ne of the unique features of occupational medicine is the need for the treating physician to function as part of a team. The players on this team include the injured employee, the employer, the physician, and the claims administrator. Depending on the specifics of the case, other parties may be involved, including an occupational health nurse, a physical therapist, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, or the patient’s family physician.”
California Workers’ Compensation Law has special rules to assign Permanent Disability to Injured Workers who have sustained Psychiatric Injuries.
In order to obtain a Psychiatric Permanent Disability Percentage, an Injured Worker must obtain a permanent disability rating. A rating is obtained via an evaluation of the injured worker by a mental health practitioner. Generally, in California Workers’ Compensation Law, Psychiatrists or Psychologists are the medical providers who evaluate Injured Workers for Psychiatric Injuries. Treating Psychiatrists and Psychologists are also allowed to make this evaluation.
With respect to a Psychiatric Permanent Disability, the evaluators will make the assessment as to whether (a) there is a permanent disability; and (b) the amount of it.