Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Emotional Distress in Ohio?
Job-related injuries can have both physical and psychological effects. If you feared for your safety—or maybe even feared for your life—this can stay with you long after your physical injuries have healed.
In legal terms, the psychological effects of the fear you experience during a traumatic accident are referred to as “emotional distress.” Emotional distress is a type of “non-financial” loss for which accident victims can recover just compensation in some (but not all) cases. Here’s what you need to know about your legal rights if you were severely injured in a job-related accident in Ohio.
Workers’ Compensation Does Not Cover Emotional Distress in Most Cases
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation does not cover emotional distress in most cases. While workers’ compensation covers nearly all job-related physical injuries (for qualifying employees), “[p]sychiatric conditions” generally are not covered.
This exclusion prevents injured employees from claiming workers’ compensation benefits for emotional distress in most cases. But, there is one important exception: Under Ohio’s workers’ compensation law, employees can obtain benefits for psychiatric conditions that “arise from sexual conduct in which the claimant was forced by threat of physical harm to engage or participate.”
As a result, even if you suffered severe emotional distress due to an on-the-job accident, your emotional distress is not covered under workers’ compensation. While you may be entitled to benefits for your medical bills and lost wages related to your physical injuries, you are not entitled to benefits for your emotional trauma.
Injured Workers in Ohio Can Seek Financial Compensation for Emotional Distress Outside of Workers’ Comp
While you may not be able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for your emotional distress in Ohio, you may be able to obtain financial compensation through other means. This may be the case, for example, if you have a personal injury claim as a result of your accident.
Generally, employers that participate in Ohio’s workers’ compensation system are immune from personal injury lawsuits when their employees get injured on the job. But, while your employer may be immune, other companies are not. As a result, if you have a claim against any of the following companies, your lawyer may be able to help you obtain financial compensation for your emotional distress (in addition to all of your other accident-related losses):
- A Negligent Driver’s Insurance Company – Vehicle collisions are among the leading causes of job-related accidents. If you were injured in a collision while driving for work, you can file an insurance claim just as you could if you were injured in a collision on personal time. In most cases, this will involve filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
- A Negligent Driver’s Employer (or Rideshare Company) – While you typically can’t file a personal injury claim against your own employer, you can file a claim against someone else’s employer when their negligence is to blame for your injuries. So, if the driver who hit you was working at the time of the crash, his or her employer could be liable for your emotional distress and other losses. Rideshare companies carry insurance that covers their drivers’ accidents as well.
- A Property Owner – Falls are also among the leading causes of job-related accidents. If your employer owns the property where you fell, you may be limited to filing for workers’ compensation benefits. But, if your employer rents the office or warehouse where you fell, or if you were injured on a jobsite that is owned by another company or a homeowner, your lawyer may be able to help you file a lawsuit to recover full compensation.
- A Contractor or Subcontractor – If you were injured in an accident caused by a contractor or subcontractor, your lawyer may be able to help you recover financial compensation for your emotional distress in this situation as well. Multiple companies’ employees often work in close proximity on construction sites, in office buildings and hospitals, and in other workplaces.
- A Tool, Equipment or Vehicle Manufacturer – Accidents involving defective tools, equipment, vehicles and other products can also entitle injured employees to financial compensation for their emotional distress. Under Ohio law, manufacturers can be held strictly liable for injuries caused by product defects.
These are just examples. Other companies can be held liable for on-the-job injuries in various circumstances as well. If you are coping with the effects of emotional distress after getting injured in any type of accident on the job, you owe it to yourself to speak with a lawyer about your legal rights.
How to Determine (and Prove) Your Legal Rights After an On-the-Job Accident
How do you determine if you are entitled to financial compensation for your emotional distress—and if you are, how do you prove it? Determining your legal rights after an on-the-job accident starts with hiring a lawyer to conduct a thorough investigation. An experienced lawyer will be able to assess not only whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation but also if you have a personal injury claim outside of workers’ comp.
If you have a personal injury claim outside of workers’ comp, you will need to work with your lawyer to prove how much you are entitled to recover for your emotional distress. The insurance companies will not calculate just compensation for you, and they will not pay for your emotional distress voluntarily. But, with an experienced lawyer on your side, you can clearly establish your right to just compensation for emotional distress, and you can rely on your lawyer’s advice to make informed decisions about when (and if) to settle.
Discuss Your Legal Rights with a Lawyer in Columbus, OH
If you need to know more about your legal rights after an on-the-job accident in Ohio, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. With offices in Columbus, our lawyers represent injured workers in workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims statewide. To discuss your situation with an experienced lawyer in confidence, call 888-444-7440 or tell us how we can reach you online now.