Columbia Center for Occupational and Forensic Psychiatry - Washington, D.C. - Dr. David J. Fischer, M.D. Medical Director

COLUMBIA CENTER FOR
OCCUPATIONAL & FORENSIC PSYCHIATRY

DAVID J. FISCHER, MD MEDICAL DIRECTOR

PHONE: 202-363-4333
PHONE: 202-686-0114
 

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Dr. Fischer's Office is located in Washington, DC - District of Columbia

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PSYCHIATRIC DISABILITY UNDER WORKERS COMPENSATION LAW

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Workers Compensation Laws first adopted in Germany by Bismark in 1845. In the USA, between 1915-1920, 40 states adopted Workers Compensation Laws. Workers Compensation is a mandatory insurance. These laws compensate for injuries or deaths suffered in the course of employment. The emphasis of these laws is on a finding that the work situation caused the mental or physical disability. Workers Compensation is much more liberal in terms of the worker but it limited the extent of liability to the incapacity to work. It provides compensation for work-related injuries. This means that the injury occurs during the course of employment. Workers Compensation is awarded for the incapacity to work. It is a no-fault doctrine. Unlike tort law, fault or negligence is not an issue. Therefore it is an alternative system of compensation compared to the fault-oriented tort system.

Workmen’s compensation law compensates for all injuries arising out of employment. It pays for the following, impairment in earning capacity, associated medical costs, nursing costs and burial expenses. It does not provide payment for pain and suffering. There are no punitive damages.

 

CRITERIA FOR WORKMAN'S COMPENSATION

There are 3 basic criteria for Workman's Compensation:

  1. The worker must show an injury or disability that effects his earning power.
    • Workman’s Compensation is awarded for an incapacity to work only.
    • There is no compensation for disfigurement, loss of sexual potency, or pain and suffering, as there is under tort law.
  2. The injury must arise in the course of employment.
    • A preexisting condition is not compensable unless it is accelerated or aggravated during the course of employment.
  3. The injury must arise by accident.

MENTAL STRESS CLAIMS IN WORKERS COMPENSATION

  • 15% of all occupational diseases were stress-related (1985)
  • Types of mental stress claims:
    • Physical/Mental (e.g. PTSD)
    • Mental/Physical (Stress -->Heart Attack)
    • Mental/Mental (Stress à Mental Illness)

The psychiatrist who is evaluating claimants for disability has to be aware not only of the psychiatric data, but of the need to frame it in a way that the evaluators of claims can find useful in making their determination according to the laws that establish the requirements for awards of disability.



 
 
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