Mental Illnesses & Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits


Posted by: Chris

The workers’ compensation system was established in Oklahoma to compensate victims of work-related injuries. This includes both workers who suffer non-fatal injuries and surviving family members of workers who suffer fatal injuries. 

Most workers’ compensation death benefit claims involve physical fatal-injuries. For example, if a worker is killed in a scaffolding accident on a construction site, the worker’s family members would be awarded benefits for their loss. But what if someone’s death is caused by work-related mental injuries? Are these covered by the workers’ compensation system? Here’s what you should know:

When Are Mental Illnesses Compensable?

It’s important to understand when a mental illness is covered by the workers’ compensation system in Oklahoma. The law states that mental illnesses are only covered if they occur as a result of a work-related physical injury. For example, someone who suffers serious work-related physical injuries may experience depression due to the severity of their injuries. In this case, the mental illness may be compensable.

The physical injury requirement does not apply to victims of workplace violence. The workers’ compensation system will cover work-related mental illnesses for these victims even if they are not related to a work-related physical injury. 

When Are Death Benefits Awarded For Mental Illnesses?

The workers’ compensation system will award death benefits for mental illnesses under certain circumstances. First, the mental illness must meet be compensable, meaning it must meet the conditions mentioned above. Second, the victim’s death must have been directly caused by the mental illness. 

Finally, the victim’s death must have occurred within one year from the date of the incident that caused the mental illness. For instance, say someone suffers a serious work-related physical injury on January 1, 2020 and later suffers from depression as a result of this injury. If the victim dies within one year from January 1, 2020 as a direct result of their depression, the victim’s surviving family members would be entitled to death benefits.  

Who Will Be Awarded Death Benefits?

The same rules must be followed when awarding death benefits regardless of whether the death was caused by a physical or mental injury. This means the death benefits will be awarded to the victim’s surviving spouse and children. 

Has your loved one suffered a fatal work-related injury? Let the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. assist you with the process of applying for workers’ compensation death benefits. We will work tirelessly to ensure your family is fully compensated for your loss. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.