Depression can be a very significant factor in a workers’ compensation claim. When a work injury results in permanent impairment, where a doctor has provided a rating, there may be a consequence of chronic pain, loss of ability to perform certain activities, loss of income, and loss of employment. These issues are typically sources of psychosocial stressors which can result in some form of depression. Depression itself can bring about issues regarding mood, concentration, motivation, memory, feelings of worthlessness, appetite, not finding pleasure in life, problems with sleep, and thoughts of suicide. In many cases, it is hard to separate out what is caused by chronic pain and what is depression, because chronic pain can bring about many of the same issues. It is not unusual when an injury results in chronic pain, depression develops, and the two conditions combine to make things even worse.
Unfortunately, depression is often overlooked. Many of the medical specialties focus on the injury itself, and little time, if any, is spent on something like depression. It is common, in a workers’ compensation claim, for the injury to be treated, rated for permanency, and the claim is essential over. However, it is essential depression is recognized and treated. Many times the starting point for getting treatment is a family doctor, who is more likely to spend time with you and listen to your concerns. If treatment is recommended by the family doctor, it is important to make sure the issue is presented to the workers’ compensation carrier to request authorization for care. If authorization is denied, care can be paid for by a health insurance company, assuming you have insurance. There may be a problem getting the medical care paid for if the care is unauthorized.
Depression can have a significant effect on a workers’ compensation claim. Because depression can impact an injured worker’s ability to perform gainful employment, when coupled with the actual work injury, the amount of compensation owed to an injured worker can increase significantly. If the work injury is a scheduled claim (an injury to the toes, feet, legs, fingers, hands, or arms), depression can result in the claim being a nonscheduled claim, which allows for a significant increase in benefits owed. If the injury is a nonscheduled claim (head, neck, shoulders, hips, or back), combined with depression, it may allow for a significant increase in benefits.
Depression can be a very significant issue for resolving a workers’ compensation claim. It is commonly overlooked. If you have a workers’ compensation claim with a permanent injury, resulting in chronic pain, depression can occur. It is not likely the workers’ compensation insurance company will provide much assistance unless an authorized doctor recognizes depression, and even then the insurance carrier may not accept responsibility. These are complex issues and are not likely to be properly addressed without the assistance of an attorney who is both experienced and knowledgeable regarding these issues. You should not hesitate to contact the workers’ compensation lawyers at Wertz & Dake to explore these issues if you have a concern. It will cost you nothing, as there is no charge for a consultation.