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New Workers’ Compensation Legislation For Newtown Employees

329644_priority_mental_health.jpgFollowing the Newtown school shooting, Connecticut is attempting to pass into a law a bill which would cover treatment costs for mental injury stemming from the workplace. The bill will only cover future incidents of mental injury stemming from work-related trauma; however, a special fund is being planned to cover those who are suffering mental ailments as a result of the Newtown massacre.

Massachusetts covers most workplace injuries under its workers’ compensation laws, including mental injury.

Under Massachusetts law, first responders who suffer from mental illness as a result of work-related trauma (i.e. post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD) are eligible for workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, since Connecticut law does not yet cover such claims, the first responders and teachers who suffered mental injuries as a result of the shootings must rely on a special fund set up to cover the expenses of those affected.

Mental injury stemming from the workplace can be more difficult to identify than a physical injury; however, it is important to remember that such injuries do occur and are covered under workers’ compensation in Massachusetts. Mental illness can result in missed work, used sick days, decreased performance, and large medical bills, and as a result, it is important that claims be filed if the mental illness is connected to the activities performed professionally. Claims for mental injury are just as legitimate as claims for physical injury, so workers should not be afraid to file a claim if they have suffered a trauma at work leading to injury, whether mental or physical.

In Massachusetts, employees who suffer mental and/or emotional injuries as a result of a particular event or series of events can pursue a claim for a mental injury arising from such an event.

According to Massachusetts case law, there are several requirements to prove a compensable mental injury: (1) the predominant cause of the disability; (2) an event or a series of events occurring within the employment; (3) that is not a bona fide, personnel action; or (4) is the intentional infliction of emotional harm in a bona fide personnel action. See Walczak v. Mass. Rehab. Comm., 10 Mass. Workers’ Comp. Rep. 539 (1996).

Here are some helpful Massachusetts workers’ compensation links for additional reading:

Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Guide for Injured Workers, April 2012

Hurt on the Job? Workers’ Compensation Can Help, March 2012

Karsner & Meehan, P.C. is a well-established law firm, handling work-related injuries for over 30 years. If you or anyone you know has been injured at work in Bristol County, Plymouth County, or elsewhere in Massachusetts, you should contact the experienced attorneys at Karsner & Meehan, P.C. to schedule your free consultation.