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.