Depression is a debilitating illness that affects millions of people every year. It’s also more common after a workplace accident than many people think. A study by the Institute for Work and Health found 1 in 12 employees were diagnosed with depression in the first 12 months after suffering a work injury. None of the participants had a depression diagnosis before the injury occurred.
In South Carolina, it is possible to obtain workers’ compensation benefits to cover losses incurred due to depression. However, eligible employees often face obstacles when seeking benefits for mental injuries. Insurance companies may argue that a worker’s depression is not linked to the job injury or is the result of a pre-existing condition. These arguments can impact your ability to obtain full benefits unless they’re backed by strong proof.
If you’ve been diagnosed with depression after a workplace accident, you may not feel up for a fight. Let Stewart Law Offices handle the case for you. Our compassionate South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers can explain the state’s laws regarding mental injuries and handle every aspect of your workers’ compensation claim for you.
You’ll never feel alone as your claim proceeds. Our law firm’s longstanding tradition is to treat clients like family. And we don’t leave family behind.
Reach out to us today for a free, confidential consultation.
Does Depression Qualify Me for Workers’ Compensation?
South Carolina allows certain individuals to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for depression. South Carolina Code § 42-1-160(B) states that depression and other mental health conditions that are unaccompanied by a physical injury do not qualify as a personal injury unless an employee can prove:
- The employment conditions causing their depression were extraordinary and unusual compared to the normal conditions of employment.
- Those extraordinary conditions caused or exacerbated the worker’s depression.
South Carolina Code § 42-1-160(C) adds that mental injuries that occur in the absence of a physical on-the-job injury do not qualify for compensation if they occur in the context of normal employer/employee relations, such as:
- Personnel actions by the employer such as disciplinary actions
- Work evaluations
- Salary reviews
If your depression is aggravated by a work-related physical injury, it is only compensable if:
- The employer/carrier admits it.
- An authorized physician notes that the condition is at least in part causally related or connected to the injury or accident in medical records.
- The depression is found to be causally related or connected to the accident or injury after evaluation by an authorized psychologist or psychiatrist.
What Kind of Workplace Injuries Can Lead to Depression?
In truth, any kind of workplace injury could lead to depression. In the study above, the participants had all suffered some sort of musculoskeletal injury that kept them out of work for five days or more.
People who suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) may also experience depression as a consequence of their injuries. This could be due to direct damage to the brain or from the limitations that the injury caused, such as the loss of mobility, memory loss, or other cognitive impairments.
South Carolinians who suffer job injuries that are career-ending, require long-term hospitalization, or result in permanent disabilities are also prone to depression. High-stress jobs also are associated with high rates of depression.
Filing a S.C. Workers’ Compensation Claim for Depression
You have 90 days to notify your employer that you realized or have been diagnosed with depression. After that, you would file a Form 50, Employee’s Notice of Claim and/or Request for Hearing with the S.C. Workers’ Compensation Commission.
At Stewart Law Offices, we can assist you with filing all workers’ compensation paperwork accurately and on time. We can also work with your employer’s insurance company to address any disputes that may arise.
Please know that we understand that depression is real. We also understand the complexities of workers’ compensation law and can gather the evidence you need for a solid and convincing claim.
Get Legal Help from an Experienced S.C. Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Don’t give up on pursuing workers’ compensation if you’re suffering from depression. Talk to an attorney at Stewart Law Offices instead.
For more than 25 years, our accomplished legal team has fought for the rights of injured workers just like you. Our law firm has offices in Rock Hill, Columbia, Spartanburg and Beaufort**, as well as Charlotte, N.C. We can come to you if getting to us is too difficult.
Call or contact us now to get started.
Originally published October, 2019. Updated December, 2020.