Workers in North Carolina are exposed to the risk of incurring many different kinds of work injuries. Those operating heavy equipment on construction sites or in factories might develop hearing loss. Those who drive for a living could end up with a spinal cord injury because of a car crash. People can also get benefits for chronic conditions that develop because of their work, including carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries.
The nature of someone’s work influences what risks they’re subjected to, and each worker must advocate for themselves and comply with workplace safety rules to reduce the likelihood that they’ll end up injured. But even when someone tries to be as safe as possible, they can end up hurt through no fault of their own. The North Carolina workers’ compensation program helps to protect those who are struggling due to a job-acquired medical condition.
Anyone who can connect a significant medical issue to their employment may potentially be in a position to apply for medical benefits for treatment costs and disability benefits to replace their lost wages. Not every injury someone suffers at work will be a visible, physical issue. For example, workers who have been traumatized by an experience on the job may qualify for workers’ compensation if they have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to work-related circumstances.
PTSD can qualify a worker for benefits in some cases
In theory, almost any debilitating medical condition can qualify for workers’ compensation coverage. The challenge often lies in proving conclusively that the medical issue stems from someone’s employment. If there is a fire in a factory or a robbery at a pizza restaurant, the workers present when the incident occurred could very well end up struggling with serious mental health challenges afterward. A diagnosis of PTSD and official records affirming that a specific incident occurred which may have traumatized an employee could help them make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
In 2021, the North Carolina State House passed a bill that would potentially enhance PTSD protections for first responders who need workers need workers’ compensation coverage, but the bill has not yet become part of the state law. For now, all workers will receive the same consideration if they make a claim related to PTSD.
Mental health claims may be more challenging
While workers may have a valid claim for benefits, they may require more documentation and have a greater need for legal guidance during their claims than the average injured worker. Learning more about the rules that govern workers’ compensation benefits can help people obtain the coverage they deserve after an injury on the job.