The “Hidden Injury” or “Hidden Illness”
Psychological and psychiatric injuries are often “hidden”, because they are not immediately apparent in the way an external injury or illness may be. Examples of psychological injuries or disabilities include major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mood/anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and many more.
If your emotional or psychological injury or illness is preventing you from carrying on with the activities of your daily life, such as work, housework, maintaining social connections, parenting, properly taking care of yourself, etc., you may be able to seek compensation for it.
There are two distinct situations where a person suffering from a severe psychological disability can seek compensation:
If the Mental Health Problem Is the Result of an Injury
Sometimes, a personal injury can lead to a severe psychological illness, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. In this scenario, you can sue the at-fault party not only for physical injuries, but also psychological injuries.
If your psychological illness is causing you to be unable to return to work or carry out housekeeping duties, you can claim pecuniary (monetary) losses. Non-pecuniary losses (losses not quantifiable by money) can also be claimed, such as difficulty engaging in social interaction, distraction from the enjoyment of life, etc.
If You Are Unable to Work in Any Occupation due to a Severe Mental Illness
Some people have pre-existing psychological disabilities that result in an inability to work, while others develop them over time (for example, in a stressful work environment).
In these situations, you do not have an at-fault party to sue for your psychological illness; however, if your psychological disability makes you unable to work and you are covered by a short term or long term group or private disability policy, you can submit a claim to that insurance company.
Although your policy entitles you to short term and/or long term disability benefits, your insurance company may not approve your claim for a variety of reasons. If the insurance company denies your claim, you can enlist a lawyer with experience in psychological disability cases to fight on your behalf and get you the benefits you deserve.
The Challenge of Measuring Psychological Injuries
Unfortunately, people (including insurance companies) are more skeptical about psychological injuries than physical injuries. For this reason, it can be difficult to either sue an at-fault party for a psychological injury or receive the long term disability benefits you are entitled to.
This is exacerbated by the challenge of accurately measuring a psychological injury with an objective diagnostic tool; it is more difficult to apply objective standards to mental illness, as each person responds differently.
In order to sue or receive disability benefits for a psychological disability, you may need to undergo a test through a diagnostic tool called the “Global Assessment of Functioning”. This test is an attempt to get a less subjective measure of psychological disability by scoring a person based on an impression of their mental functioning.
However, the GAF has two major problems:
- It only takes a measurement of a person at one specific point in time, which is nothing more than a snapshot of someone at one moment. Everyone experiences fluctuations in their mental state; therefore, the GAF cannot accurately describe a person’s real mental state.
- People instinctively put their best self forward when being evaluated or meeting new people. This issue can cause GAF scores to inaccurately indicate a healthier mental state than the person normally experiences.
Due to these issues, the GAF is a controversial method of measuring the subjective reality of mental disability. In only reviewing medical documents or a onetime psychological examination, it is difficult to gather the evidence needed without a lawyer with experience in psychological injuries.
Three Examples of Common Causes of Psychological Disabilities:
Psychological Disabilities Caused by Chronic Pain
Chronic pain – pain that lasts beyond the usual recovery period – is a common cause of psychological disabilities. The Canadian Psychological Association estimates that between 10-30% of Canadians experience chronic pain.
Over time, the strain of constant pain can wear down a person’s mental fortitude; it disrupts sleep, decreases energy, and can impair their ability to go about their daily activities of living. Chronic pain can also be associated with severe depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
Psychological Disabilities Caused by Burn, Scar, or Disfigurement Injuries
Whether due to a dog bite or a car accident, a burn, scar, or disfigurement is an ever-present reminder of the incident. This has a real psychological effect and can cause anxiety, depression, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Regardless of a person’s internal strength, the constant reminder of pain, fear, and suffering wears down emotional defences over time. Furthermore, it can impact the person’s sense of self-worth, as most of us take pride in our appearance.
It can be difficult for others to understand the true psychological impact of having a visible scar.
Psychological Disabilities Caused by the Workplace
The workplace is an example of a place where psychological injuries can occur. Anxiety and depression are two such mental health issues that commonly stem from workplace problems.
A stressful, poorly managed work environment can be the source of repetitive strain and anxiety for many employees, eventually creating mental health problems. Over time, such issues can become chronic and even more difficult from which to heal.
Compassionate Representation with Compelling Results
It takes a special level of understanding and attention to be able to work with persons who are suffering from psychological and psychiatric injuries. Attentive communication is key.
With much experience on their side, Roger and his team comprehend the challenges facing individuals suffering from these types of disabilities. They take a special approach to handling cases where psychological or psychiatric disability exists.
A former client Joanne writes about her experience with Roger:
“When I first met you, you said you understood my illness. I knew then I had finally found someone who would believe in me! You don’t just read paperwork you take the time to listen, understand and be supportive. Thank you for being the supportive, knowledgeable, understanding and caring person that you are. I truly believe this field of work was your calling.”
Roger R. Foisy and Associates are “lawyers for the people” who fight to receive maximum dollars for their clients.
We’re here to provide you with the exceptional level of care and assistance you deserve; contact us now.