How Long Can I Obtain Mental Health Benefits Through Workers’ Compensation?
If you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits for a mental injury that occurred at work, how long can you continue to receive these benefits? For example, can you continue to receive benefits for a mental injury even if the physical injury heals? And at what point can your workers’ compensation benefits stop for a mental harm that occurred in the workplace? In order to understand the answer to that question, our South Florida workers’ compensation attorneys want to say more about mental and nervous injuries under the Florida Statutes, and then to tell you about a recent Florida case concerning mental health benefits.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Mental Injuries
Florida law allows workers to seek compensation through the workers’ compensation system for some types of mental or nervous injuries. The law clarifies that mental or nervous injuries that are caused by “stress, fright or excitement only” are not considered to be compensable injuries that arise out of the court of employment. Further, a physical injury that results from an employee’s mental or nervous injury produced solely by “stress, fright or excitement” will not be compensable through the Florida workers’ compensation system. However, there are circumstances in which mental injuries are compensable.
According to Florida law, “mental or nervous injuries occurring as a manifestation of an injury compensable under this chapter” can be compensable through the workers’ compensation system if the employee has clear and convincing medical evidence of the link between the two. In order for the mental injury to be compensation, the “compensable physical injury must be and remain the major contributing cause of the mental or nervous condition and the compensable physical injury as determined by reasonable medical certainty must be at least 50 percent responsible for the mental or nervous condition as compared to all other contributing causes combined.”
In sum, for a mental injury to be compensable, it must arise out of a compensable physical injury, and the physical injury must be 50 percent or more responsible for the mental injury.
Mental Health Benefits May Be Able to Continue After a Physical Injury Heals
What happens in situations where a compensable physical injury occurs and leads to a mental injury, but the physical injury heals faster than the mental injury? Can the injured employee continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits coverage for mental health needs associated with the compensable mental injury?
A recent Florida appeals case clarifies that, in such cases, an injured employee may be eligible to continue receiving temporary disability benefits for a mental injury for six months after reaching maximum medical improvement (MMI) and being eligible for permanent impairment benefits for the physical injury. Then, the court also intimated that, in cases where an injured employee is not receiving impairment benefits, mental injury benefits may be able to continue for a longer period of time.
Contact Our Pompano Beach Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
If you have questions about obtaining mental injury benefits or continuing to receive those benefits after a physical injury heals, an experienced Pompano Beach workers’ compensation lawyer at our firm can assist you. Contact the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A. today for more information.