Being injured in the course of employment can be a difficult experience and a cause of significant stress, anxiety and depression. Stress can be a very serious life affecting issue and it is important that a worker seek medical advice whether they intend to make a WorkCover claim or not.
In Queensland, it may be possible to make a WorkCover claim for stress because it might be considered to be a psychological or psychiatric injury. However, the test to determine if the stress constitutes a psychological or psychiatric injury is fairly high to be considered for WorkCover.
Simply being stressed at work may be insufficient to meet the criteria. For a psychiatric or psychological disorder to fit under the definition of ‘injury’ under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 the employment must be the major significant contributing factor to the injury. This does not apply if the worker is outside the work area for employment related reasons or traveling to or from the place of employment. This may be difficult to establish if the victim has a previous history of high stress such as dealing with the burden of family, financial difficulties, etc.
Furthermore, stress will not fit the definition of a psychological or psychiatric injury in circumstances where reasonable management action is taken in a reasonable way by the employer regarding the worker’s employment. A few examples may include:
- a manager is understaffed and requires employees to pick up the slack;
- a manager exercising disciplinary measures for his employee’s conduct; or
- a decision to refuse a promotion in connection with the worker’s employment.
What is considered ‘reasonable’ is a question of what a reasonable manager in a similar circumstance would do. A worker’s expectation or perception of the reasonable management action being taken is not considered.
It is important that a WorkCover claim for stress is supported by medical evidence and be classified as a medical condition. If a worker is feeling the effects of stress then they should seek medical help as early as possible and explain the source of the stress and how it is affecting them. Those medical records may be able to better substantiate the stress as a medical condition as opposed to just a spur of emotion.
Seeking legal advice from an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury is highly recommended to protect your rights and to clarify any concerns or questions regarding the complexities of a worker’s compensation and how to make a WorkCover claim.
If you would like to have any further questions or concerns addressed by one of our Personal Injury Specialists, then we encourage you to fill out the inquiry form so our firm can assist you or your family within 24 hours.
Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (QLD) s32(1)(b).Ibid 34(2).