Are psychiatric injuries covered under workers’ compensation?


One of the stark realities of today is the number of violent and traumatic incidents occurring. The recent shooting at Borderline outside Los Angeles is the latest example. Not only were the patrons inside affected by the events, but so were the workers and first responders who came to help.

If you endure a traumatic event while at work, is your diagnosis and treatment covered under workers’ compensation insurance? What about other psychiatric developments? Can you receive help via your employer?

Each state has different workers’ compensation laws on the books, and in California, there are specific qualifications for employee rights to psychiatric treatment. Employers must take steps to ensure that proper coverage exists to render aid when necessary.

Traumatic events

Workers’ compensation insurance covers violent events that occur at work. Employees who endure a scary and traumatic event while in the workplace must go through a series of sessions with counselors. This, too, applies to first responders, who often must expose themselves to dangerous and frightening experiences as part of the job. Post-traumatic stress disorder may develop if proper treatment is not available immediately following a scary moment.


Most occupations are stressful for one reason or another. Deadlines, travel requirements and demanding environments abound. Is stress covered under workers’ compensation? In California, after six months on the job, an employee may be able to claim a psychological injury due to stress. Reducing stress in the workplace falls on the managers who must be diligent in effectively managing employees and recognizing the signs and symptoms of psychological burnout.

Disciplinary action

People who receive reprimands for breaking company policy may not claim a psychiatric injury resulting from the consequences. After receiving a write-up or disciplinary action, it is more difficult to claim job-related stress and psychiatric stress.

It is up to employers to help protect the physical and mental wellbeing of employees. If an employee suffers psychological consequences, and the cause is work-related, workers’ compensation insurance may cover the treatment for the injury.

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