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Can I Get Workers' Comp for Migraines?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Got a migraine? Just take a couple aspirins, and get back to work!

If you've ever had a migraine, you'll know that it can be debilitating. According to the World Health Organization, migraines are one of the most debilitating diseases in the world. Nearly 28 million American may have migraines that affect their ability to work.

So, if you can't work because of migraines, can you get workers' compensation for it?

The number one rule for workers compensation is that an injury is only covered if it is work related. Did your work duties or your work environment cause or aggravate your condition? Can you prove it?

Making a workers' compensation claim for migraines can be pretty difficult because it'll be hard to prove the cause of your migraine. Currently, doctors and researchers don't know exactly what causes migraines, and there are no cures, only treatments.

While you're unlikely to be able to get workers' compensation for migraines, you are not without legal protection.

Family and Medical Leave Act

Most people know that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), passed in 1993, allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave because of the birth of a child, adoption, the employee's own serious health condition, or a family member's serious health condition.

But, did you know that, while headaches are not protected by the FMLA, migraines are! So, if your migraines are so debilitating that they affect your ability to go to work, talk to your employer about taking FMLA leave.

Americans with Disabilities Act

If your migraines don't completely prevent you from working, you may be able to request accommodations from your employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to make working with a migraine more bearable.

While the ADA does not specifically list migraines as a disability, it does cover "mental or physical impairments that substantially limits one or more major life activities." Federal courts have ruled repeatedly that migraines can fit the ADA definition if the migraines affect your ability to work and to care for yourself.

If you want accommodations, let your employers know of your conditions, and keep your accommodations requests reasonable, such as adding light filters, providing flex-time or allowing telecommuting, instituting a fragrance-free policy, or providing a dark, quiet area for breaks.

If you suffer from migraines, and your employer won't allow you to take FMLA leave or offer reasonable accommodations, consult with an experienced employment lawyer. If you've been injured at work and want to apply for workers compensation, an experienced workers compensation attorney may be able to help.

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