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Mental Injuries and Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina

In 2012, there were 4, 628 workers were killed on the job, according to statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and there were obviously several thousand more who suffered workplace injuries.  In fact in 2012, there were 62, 213 accidents filed with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, with over 60,000 of those being new cases.

Types of Workplace Injuries

Usually, when we think of someone getting hurt on the job, we think of a physical injury to the body. Someone may fall off of the back of a truck or develop repetitive motion injuries or get hit by falling objects, or be injured due to any number of incidents. Additionally, workplace violence is one of the leading causes of workplace injuries in America.  Almost 2 million workers report incidents of workplace violence each year. Unfortunately, many more cases go unreported.

It is a sad reality that many workplace accidents and violent encounters occur that result in physical injuries.  But what if someone is injured mentally from an extraordinary circumstance at work? Is a mental injury covered under workers’ compensation in South Carolina?

Are Mental Injuries Covered?

The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, found in Section 42-1-160(b) of the South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 42 addresses this by stating that “stress, mental injuries, and mental illness arising out of and in the course of employment are not considered a personal injury unless the employee establishes by a preponderance of the evidence.”  Thus, while it is not impossible to cover mental injuries under a workers’ compensation claim, it may not be as cut and dry as say a broken arm, pulled disc, or neck strain.

Therefore, if mental injury is caused by stress from standard conditions of employment, the injury will not be covered. Some standard events that are not considered extraordinary causes of stress include, but are not limited to: demotions, furloughs, work evaluations, performance improvement plans, pay cuts, wage freezes, transfers, promotions, salary reviews, or terminations.

Ultimately, mental injuries are covered only if they are either directly “induced by physical injury…or by unusual or extraordinary conditions of employment.” This test is similar to the analysis applied to a workplace heart attack or stroke. In accordance with these guidelines, the stress and anxiety related to working in a high pressure environment is not covered, unless it is the result of the occurrence of something out of the ordinary.

Contact a South Carolina Attorney

In the unfortunate event that you, or someone you love, suffer a workplace injury, be it mental or physical, it is incredibly important that you speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney so that you can get the right advice in a timely manner.

Our firm has assisted countless workers fight for their rights in receiving the just compensation they are owed under the law.  We have experience, passion, and knowledge, and we are ready to serve your needs. Contact the legal team at the Solomon Law Group today in order to discuss your available legal options. Please call us toll free at 803-219-8870.

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