Compensation for pure psychiatric injury occurring in the course of employment
When we talk about pure psychiatric injury claims, we are talking about a claim where the worker suffers from a psychological condition and the work event has not caused physical injury. Examples include where a worker is involved in a bank hold up in the course of their work, or they witness a co-worker seriously injured or killed in the course of their work, or they are subjected to bullying and harassment in their work, and these events have an adverse psychological affect on them, resulting in a psychiatric injury.
With pure psychiatric injury claims, a worker's claim can be rejected, even though their injury may have arisen in the course of their employment, and employment is the major contributing factor to the injury occurring. Under the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, WorkCover has a right to reject a pure psychiatric injury claim where the injury is found to have resulted from "reasonable management action undertaken in a reasonable manner" by the employer.
An example of this is where a worker applies for a promotion but does not win the role and suffers a psychiatric injury as a result (for example, becomes depressed). If it is shown that in rejecting the worker's application for promotion, the employer has acted in a reasonable manner, then the worker is not entitled to claim workers' compensation benefits for their psychiatric injury. To read more about this, click on the following link: Workcover Queensland: pure psychiatric injury claims by workers.
There are of course rights of review of rejection under the relevant workers' compensation legislation.
Common law damages claims for pure psychiatric injury are most often quite complex. This is because to succeed in such a claim, it is necessary for the worker to prove that it was reasonably foreseeable by the employer that the worker was, on the balance of probabilities, likely to suffer a diagnosable psychiatric injury as a consequence of the work stress, or stressors, that are said to have caused the injury.
This can be very difficult, as often by the time the employer is placed on notice that the work stress or stressors are impacting on the worker's psychiatric state, the injury has already been sustained. Similarly, in cases of co-worker bullying and harassment, often supervisors are not made aware of the bullying until it is too late and the injury has already occurred.
It is therefore very important for a worker to inform their supervisors or managers of any work stressors or bullying and harassment in the workplace, which may be impacting upon them psychologically, as soon as possible.
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If you have suffered a psychiatric injury in the workplace, chat online or via your mobile may be able to assist with any claims or queries. Again it costs nothing to call, email or chat live with us for a free, no obligation consultation and help you evaluate your claim.