By: Amy Siegel Oran
Florida workers’ compensation law does not cover purely psychological trauma; the emotional condition must be brought about by a physical injury that occurred in the workplace. As a WC defense attorney, I have always considered that provision to be reasonable. We hear rumors about the claims in California that are so expensive due to their liberal laws. However, I find myself wondering if maybe our statute precludes genuinely hurting workers from much-needed, potentially life-saving care. After well over one year of pandemic panic, we are each finding our own “new normal.” Unfortunately, for some, that contributes to a much more stressful work environment. Let me offer a few hypotheticals:
How much anxiety must she feel as coworkers stand and speak in close proximity and she shakes in fear of bringing home the virus to her children?
How is the other to cope with his former work buddy putting his job at risk on a daily basis when he has a family to feed?
How can we say her emotional trauma was caused by anything other than her job? Our heroes will suffer the most.
I am not ready to stand up and declare the Statute is wrong, or that §440 is unfair; but, I have been giving this concept some serious thought. I have questions that never really crossed my mind before 2020. I am well aware that such a major change in the law would open a huge can of worms and I am quite certain most would not have as many merits as my hypotheticals. Beyond the exceptions already carved out for first responders it would be infeasible to start accepting purely psychiatric alleged injuries; but, like everything else in life, it will be unfair for some. I suppose working through those questions and making the best claims decision I can on behalf of my clients is my new normal. What I know for sure though is that we have all sustained emotional scars, we have all mourned, and we have all feared for our health and the health of those we love. I don’t know how any of us can see the world the same way, without questioning what we previously accepted blindly.
Mental health is no joke and whatever has caused us to hurt needs to be addressed, just like any other medical issue. There should be no stigma associated with asking for or needing help. I am extremely fortunate to work for a company that recognizes the importance of our mental health and takes affirmative steps to ensure all employees have access to immediate help if needed, as well as providing ongoing programs to help cope with the stress of our work environment. These healthy living tools include:
None of us will come out of 2021 as we walked into 2020; be good to each other and good to yourself.
Contact Amy Siegel Oran at:
Phone: (800) 718-9865
DISCLAIMER: This article is provided as a courtesy and is intended for the general information of the matters discussed above and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Neither Kelley Kronenberg, nor its individual attorneys or staff, are responsible for errors, omissions and/or typographical errors – always seek competent legal counsel.