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Is stress from work compensable through workers' compensation?

Are you stressed at work? If you said yes, you're not alone. According to a 2017 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), 61 percent of Americans say work causes a majority of their stress.

From a need to work long hours to a constant pressure from management to perform better and better, it's no wonder so many workers are stressed out.

Even though stress is a perfectly natural reaction to high-pressure situations - in fact, it's what drives our fight or flight response - not everyone is built to handle stress effectively. As the Mayo Clinic points out, regular exposure to stress can be incredibly harmful, leading to serious health conditions many people may not be aware of.

Stress-related conditions

The effect stress has on our bodies ranges from the benign to life-threatening, including common symptoms like fatigue, chronic headaches, lack of motivation, anxiety, depression, social withdrawal and personality changes, just to name a few.

Potential health issues don't stop there, however. As the Mayo Clinic goes on to explain, unchecked stress has also been linked to more serious conditions, including high blood pressure, stroke and heart failure.

Seeking workers' compensation for stress-related injuries

Stress-related injuries put workers in a very difficult position, especially when it comes to filing a workers' compensation claim. From a worker's perspective, their poor health is the direct result of stressors at work, which means they should be compensated through workers' compensation. Unfortunately, stress-based claims aren't this simple.

Whether stressors at work result in a psychological or physical injury, the burden of proof is on the petitioner to prove the facts of their case and need for benefits. This can be a challenge, especially if documentation isn't available or if a worker does not seek legal help from a skilled workers' compensation attorney.

Regardless of their complexity, Pennsylvania workers should not be dissuaded from seeking compensation for stress-related claims.

After all, as a 2013 American Bar Association article points out, stress can sometimes result in permanent injuries that can impair a person for the rest of their life, leading to a significant loss of wages and ability to work. In such cases, receiving workers' compensation benefits may be necessary if not deserved.

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