Understanding Work-Related PTSD

In a situation where a worker has been exposed to one or more traumatic events in the course of their employment WorkSafeBC acknowledges there may be resulting mental disorders such as PTSD. Work-Related PTSD can result in long lasting impacts on a worker that could greatly hinder their ability to continue to function in their workplace or profession. Work-Related PTSD could be caused by a traumatic event or could be a result of work related stressors. If a worker experiences PTSD due to an event or stressor that arose out of and in the course of employment, then they may be entitled to compensation through WorkSafeBC. 

WorkSafeBC Guidelines for PTSD

RSCM Policy Item: C3-24.10 states that “Section 135(2) of the Act provides a mental disorder presumption. The presumption applies where a worker is:

  • exposed to one or more traumatic events arising out of and in the course of the
    worker’s employment in an eligible occupation; and
  • diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist with a mental disorder that is recognized in the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association (“DSM”) as a mental or physical condition that may arise from exposure to a traumatic event.

Where the mental disorder presumption does not apply, a worker’s claim for compensation for a mental disorder will be adjudicated under section 135 of the Act.”

Claims can also be made for a worker who has a pre-existing mental disorder that was aggravated by a traumatic event at work. 

Legal Challenges in PTSD Claims

Due to the Workers Compensation Act section 135(2) wording, the Mental Disorder Presumption is rebuttable. This can create legal challenges in bringing a work-related PTSD claim if evidence is presented that suggest the PTSD is not work-related. Legal challenges may also arise in having mental disorders be accepted as a diagnosis. RSCM Policy Item: C3-24.00 states “The complexity of mental disorders gives rise to challenges in the adjudication of a claim for a mental or physical condition that is described, at the time of diagnosis, in the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (“DSM”) published by the American Psychiatric Association. The mental disorder may be the result of a number of contributing factors, some of which are work-related and some of which are not.”

Having an experienced WCB Lawyer can help you navigate the legal challenges that arise in work-related PTSD claims. 

Documentation and Evidence

For a claim to be accepted for work-related PTSD there will need to be evidence and documentation of the disorder having arisen as part of the workers employment. RSCM Policy Item: C12-97.00 explains that there is no burden of proof on the worker or the employer, “The Board gathers the relevant evidence and determines whether it is sufficiently complete and reliable to arrive at a sound conclusion with confidence. If not, the Board considers what other evidence might be obtained, and must take the initiative in seeking further evidence.” However, the worker must submit some basic evidence to show there is a claim. If evidence does not support that “it is at least as likely as not” that work activities or events were of causative significance in the worker’s PTSD, then the claim may be denied due to causation not being established. For this reason, it is beneficial to have documentation and evidence related to work-related PTSD when submitting a claim. 

How WorkSafeBC Lawyers Can Help You

Work-related PTSD can have lifelong impacts, and PTSD can make it difficult to focus the time and attention required to successfully pursue a WorkSafeBC for a mental disorder.  Navigating WorkSafeBC policy and legal challenges surrounding work-related PTSD claims can also create additional stress. A WCB Lawyer can help you get the maximum compensation you are entitled to for your work-related PTSD.

To receive legal assistance from Gosal & Company, it is as easy as picking up the phone and calling our office at (604) 591-8187.  You can also send a private and confidential message to Gosal & Company using our contact form, or you can send an email to info@gosalandcompany.com