Compensation For Psychological Injuries At Work

Compensation For Psychological Injuries At Work

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.

For example, 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 ongoing bullying and harassment in their work, and these events have an adverse psychological effect on them, resulting in their suffering a psychiatric injury.


WorkCover may reject your claim

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.


Depression can set in easily in work environments

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 (e.g. 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.

There are of course rights of Review of such a rejection under the relevant workers’ compensation legislation.


Bullying and harassment in the workplace

There are changes to Workcover legislation in process to further limit claims for pure psychiatric/psychological injury by workers in Queensland. In particular, in relation to claims for bullying and harassment in the workplace.


Common law damages claims for pure psychiatric injury are quite complex

Common law damages claims for pure psychiatric injury are quite complex claims in most cases.

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.


Co-worker bullying and harassment

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 occurred.

Similarly, in cases of co-worker bullying and harassment, often supervisors are not made aware of the bullying occurring 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 instances of bullying and harassment in the workplace, which may be impacting upon them psychologically, as soon as reasonably possible.

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