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Is My Injury Work Related?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

To get workers' compensation for an injury, it must be work related.

If you slip and fell at work or broke your leg while stocking the shelves, it's easy to show that the injury was work related. But, how do you prove an injury is work related if it happened away from work, or if it's not a physical injury, or if the injury developed over time?

So, is your injury work-related?

Injuries Outside of Work

In some circumstances, an injury occurring outside of work and not during work hours can be considered work related. These include:

  • Injuries on business trips -- You're traveling for work, and the cab you're in gets rear-ended. Since the travel is for a work-related purpose, your whiplash injury is a work-related injury.
  • Special Mission -- You're picking up your boss' dry cleaning on the way in to work. You trip on a crack and break your ankle in front of the dry cleaning shop. Since the injury occurred while doing a task that benefited your employer, your injury is work related.

For these types of injuries, you need to show that your employer received some sort of benefit from your away-from-work actions for the injury to be work-related. 

Mental Injuries

Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be covered under workers' compensation if you can show that it is work related. Depression and PTSD can be work related if it was:

  • Caused by an experience while in the scope of employment -- You would need to show that some traumatic incident at work caused your depression or PTSD. For example, the officer who pepper sprayed protesting students was able to get workers' comp after public opinion and anger gave him anxiety and depression.
  • Aggravated or triggered by work -- Normally, if you had pre-existing depression before you started work, you would not be able to show that the depression was work related. However, if stress from work or bullying by your supervisor caused your depression to be worst or triggered a major depressive episode, you could qualify for workers' compensation.

Injuries Developed Over Time

Many people may think that wrist injuries such as carpal tunnel are not covered by workers' comp. Maybe you had wrist problems all your life. However, like depression and PTSD, if you can show that your duties at work caused your carpal tunnel symptoms to worsen, you could still qualify for workers' comp. 

The best way to show this is to get a doctor's evaluation. Doctors can often recognize common causes for repetitive stress injuries and help you prove causation between your work duties and your injury.

If you suffered an injury and need help proving that it is work-related, an experienced workers' compensation attorney may be able to help.

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