Employees who are hurt on the job sometimes become depressed because they can’t do the things they previously could. That depression may then complicate their recovery or even prevent them from getting better.
The practical result is that employers and their workers’ compensation carriers will have to pay lost wages longer.
Recent case: Barbara Bradley worked as a certified nursing assistant for Maxim Healthcare, taking care of her own bedridden mother. All went well until one day when Bradley hurt her back while lifting her mother.
Bradley was off work for weeks and applied for workers’ compensation payments; she cited both the back injury and recently diagnosed depression. She and her doctors claimed her depression was caused by the back injury and the resulting inability to work or do the things she had done before. Plus, because she could no longer work, she began to think about her childhood traumas and that depressed her, too.
The court agreed that she was entitled to payment for both her back injury and the depression. It reasoned that depression brought on by a workplace injury is covered by the state’s workers’ compensation law. The workers’ compensation carrier must now pay for Bradley to receive psychiatric treatment, plus lost wages. (Bradley v. Maxim Healthcare Services, No. COA07-1052, North Carolina Court of Appeals, 2008)
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