A psychological injury is an emotional symptom that impacts a person’s life, affecting how they think, feel and behave. There are various diagnosis’ pertaining to a psychological injury including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In workers compensation, there are two different types of psychological injuries. These are:

  1. Primary Psychological Injury
  2. Secondary Psychological Injury

Primary Psychological Injury

A primary psychological injury generally involves a number of events over a period of time that has led to a person’s mental deterioration. This can be in the form of various types of bullying and harassment that has occurred overtime, unfair management and/or isolation tactics adopted by the employer.

Alternatively, a primary psychological injury could take the form of someone experiencing psychological problems as a result of a traumatic event at work. For example, a labourer may fall from a ladder at a construction site and later experience constant flashbacks and nightmares from the incident. This generally manifests into an injured worker being diagnosed with PTSD from the incident. This is also considered a primary psychological injury.

Secondary Psychological Injury

A secondary psychological injury flows from an injured workers mental deterioration as a result of a primary injury. For example, if an injured worker has sustained significant physical injuries and has been unable to return to work, they may also be experiencing psychological issues associated with their incapacity and inability to return to their normal way of life. This is known as a secondary psychological injury and is compensable.

The significant difference

With respect to both types of psychological injuries, they are compensable in that an injured worker is entitled to receive weekly compensation payments and medical expenses that flow from the injury.

However, an injured worker is additionally entitled to receive lump sum compensation if they have sustained a primary psychological injury in addition to weekly payments and medical expenses.

This entitlement does not apply to injured workers who have only sustained a secondary psychological injury.

Please do not hesitate to contact your local Turner Freeman office for further advice.