Injuries almost always cause pain. Pain often makes people feel depressed. Pain can also cause lack of sleep. Lack of sleep can also cause depression.
Many people take a lot of pride in the work they do. Limitations from a serious injury can often keep you from doing your job. A serious injury may also affect your ability to do things that you do around the house. You may not be able to participate in sports or other physical activities.
As a result of all of these different factors, serious injuries at work often cause depression and anxiety.
It is important to understand that nothing in this article is intended as medical advice. The author is a lawyer, not a doctor. This article is intended to provide you with an understanding of how the Georgia workers’ compensation law deals with depression and how it might affect your workers’ compensation case. If you feel that you are suffering from depression, you should talk to a doctor to get proper medical advice.
Getting the workers’ compensation insurance company to pay for treatment of depression
If your work injury caused your depression, you need to talk to your treating physician about it. Your treating physician may prescribe some medication or refer you to a medical provider that specializes in mental health treatment (such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a counselor).
In Georgia, the workers’ compensation insurance company may have to pay for treatment of your depression if it is caused by your work injury. However, you need to make sure that you get a referral from your authorized treating physician for the specialized treatment. If you do not have this referral, then the insurance company will probably not have to pay for your treatment.
Many people have had some treatment for depression in the past. However, their depression gets worse after a serious injury. Even if you were depressed before your injury, the insurance company may still be responsible for treatment if the injury made it worse.
What if my depression affects my ability to go back to work?
Depression also affects your ability to go back to work. Some people find it extremely difficult to get out of bed in the mornings. Other people cannot take working in a stressful environment or find it difficult to focus.
All of these things and others affect your ability to do your job. If your injury causes your depression, then your employer will have to take these things into account if they try to provide you with a job you can do. If you have not shown that your depression is due to your work injury, then your employer (and their insurance company) may not have to accommodate the limitations from your depression.
What about depression that comes from something other than a physical injury?
Currently, Georgia law only covers treatment of depression and other mental conditions when they arise as a result of a physical injury. This rule comes from a 1998 Georgia Supreme Court decision in the case of Abernathy v. City of Albany.
In this case, Joel Abernathy was denied workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder that developed as a direct result of retrieving 12 corpses and hundreds of corpses during flooding of the Flint River in 1994. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded that Georgia’s workers’ compensation law did not cover Mr. Abernathy’s PTSD.
Many people develop psychological conditions when exposed to traumatic events at work. Unfortunately, the Abernathy decision means that Georgia workers compensation law currently does not cover depression, PTSD, or other mental conditions unless those conditions arise from a physical injury. Because of this, many people who have a mental condition caused by their work cannot receive workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia.
Hopefully, the Georgia legislature will decide to change the law to overrule this decision in the near future. Until that happens, it is important to determine whether you may have suffered any sort of physical injury at work (even if your depression is more severe than your physical injury).
Questions about depression and workers’ compensation
If your injury at work caused your depression, the workers’ compensation insurer should pay for your treatment. The insurance company may refuse to do this voluntarily. You may need to get an attorney involved.
Even if the insurance company pays for treatment of your depression, many people have questions about whether they are receiving all the benefits they should receive. I believe the best way to get answers to your questions is to talk to an attorney who specializes in Georgia workers’ compensation law.