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Oklahoma workers' compensation laws differ for psychological injuries

Charlie Plumb, a labor and employment attorney with McAfee & Taft, discusses a recent workers' comp case involving a firefighter and post traumatic stress.
by Paula Burkes Published: January 22, 2013
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Q&A with Charlie Plumb

Workers' comp laws differ

for psychological injuries

Q: Oklahoma's workers' compensation system allows employees of insured employers to seek compensation for certain injuries or occupational diseases suffered while on the job. Are nonphysical injuries included?

A: The Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Act restricts an employee's ability to obtain benefits for nonphysical injuries, such as depression, extreme anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Q: Under what circumstances would psychological and emotional claims qualify for workers' compensation benefits?

A: According to the act, a compensable injury “shall not include mental injury that does not arise directly as a result of a compensable physical injury, except in the case of rape or other crime of violence which arises out of in the course of employment.” If an employee suffers an emotional injury — for example, depression — as a result of suffering an accompanying physical injury, then the courts would consider compensation for both claims.

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by Paula Burkes
Reporter
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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