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Few employers would argue that a worker who suffers an obvious injury on the job doesn't deserve workers' compensation (WC) benefits, but many would be perplexed by employees who claim that their jobs caused them "mental" injuries.
Under most WC laws, there are three categories of mental injury:
1. Mental-physical. A mental impact or stimulus causes a physical disability (e.g., extreme stress on the job causes the person to develop a serious ulcer). The mental problem must cause "a distinct physical injury," and it must be clearly job related.
2. Physical-mental. A physical accident or trauma leads to a mental injury (e.g., a person injured by a machine while working suffers from major depression or a neurosis as a result of that injury).
3. Mental-mental. A mental stimulus (e.g., a frightening episode at work) causes a mental injury (e.g., onset of posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], depression, or anxiety).
Mental-mental claims. States that recognize some form of mental-mental claims include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, …