Law Offices of David Lowe | California Workers Compensation Lawyer

“Stressed at work” is a sentiment that almost any employee in San Mateo can relate to. Yet because of the performance-related pressures inherent with any professional position, many may view your claim of that stress being disabling with skepticism.

Such a claim, however, must have the support of clinical opinion in order for you to secure workers’ compensation benefits to assist with your treatment for this stress (which should put any doubts about the veracity of your claim to rest). The question then becomes what is the legal standard for receiving workers’ compensation for stress.

Tracing disability to a psychiatric injury

Per Section 3208.3 of the California Labor Code, a stress-related condition may qualify you for workers’ compensation if the condition meets the diagnostic standards set forth by state law or the definition of a mental disorder listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or another nationally accepted publication). In addition, you need to show (through a preponderance of evidence) that experiencing or witnessing a specific violent act at work or the cumulative events related to your work amounts to a substantial cause of your stress. The state defines “a substantial cause” as contributing to a degree greater than 35-40%.

Qualifying for stress-related workers’ compensation after the end of your employment

If you choose to seek workers’ compensation benefits for your stress treatment following the end of your employment, the law requires that your case demonstrates one of the following elements:

Sudden and extraordinary events at work caused your stress

You notified your employer of your stress-related condition prior to your employment ending

Medical records diagnosing your condition prior to your employment ending

Sexual or racial harassment causing your work-related stress

You may also qualify if your stress-related diagnosis appears after you receiving notice of the end of your employment, but prior to it becoming official.