Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder- Nevada Comp Law

There are two ways  a Nevada worker might receive treatment for a post-traumatic stress disorder under a Nevada workers' compensation claim:

1)  The claimant has an accepted claim for a physical injury and the PTSD is a compensable consequence of that injury and needs treatment.  If so, the  claimant might get some psychological counseling and medications, but would not be entitled to an impairment award for the PTSD.  See, Roberts v. SIIS, 956 P.2d 790 (1998).

2)  The claimant has a compensable stress claim accepted  under NRS 616C.180.  In addition to receiving medical care and compensation benefits if out of work, the claimant may be entitled to an impairment evaluation of the psychological disorder for a permanent partial disability award. 

 Nevada's stress claim statute, NRS 616C.180, provides that stress shall be deemed to arise out of and in the course of employment only if the employee proves by clear and convincing medical or psychiatric evidence that a) the employee has a mental injury caused by extreme stress in time of danger; b) the primary cause of the injury was an event that arose out of and during the course of employment; and c) the stress was not caused by a job layoff,  termination or  any disciplinary action taken against the employee.  This statute also specifically excludes any disorder caused by any gradual mental stimulus. 

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Work-Related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

I am excited  to welcome Francesca Senior to my staff as new office administrator and legal assistant.  Francesca has an amazing background in international horse horse show jumping as a  professional rider and trainer.  She brings her experience in the horse industry in barn management, sales and marketing of European sport horses, charity fundraising, and managing  horse shows to the legal industry.  Her unique knowledge of how to help people learn new skills and  systematically reach desired goals translates remarkably  well from training competitive riders to servicing injured workers who must transition into new occupations. 

Francesca's guest blog below demonstrates her fresh approach to helping people with work injuries, including work-related post-traumatic stress discorder (PTSD).  The specific  requirements for a compensable occupational stress claim in Nevada  are in NRS 616C.180.  The suggestions in Francesca's  guest blog post  are points for discussion and are not to be considered treatment for PTSD or a substitute for medical care.


By Francesca Senior, guest blogger                                         

          Living in Las Vegas your first thought may be, well, how big is the jackpot? But as any seasoned gambler will tell you, the rush of a win is quickly forgotten and it’s often the house winning, not you.

          What if there was a game that you could play and win real life rewards, such as add more time to your life or strengthen your relationships with friends and family? Or even, help you recover from a traumatic event? How about a game that could be a tool to treat someone contemplating suicide? A game that can make anyone’s life better and maybe even save some lives?


What if I told you the game not only exists but it’s free to anyone online?


          The game is called “SuperBetter” and game designer Jane McGonigal got some of the brightest minds in the country, including a Stanford Professor of Neurosurgery, to develop the game using scientific research to help real people solve real life problems. Her team of sociologists, scientists, a few professors of psychology at Berkeley, Ohio State University rehabilitation specialist along with countless others make up what she calls her scientific advisory board.

          From the SuperBetterwebsite, “At Superbetterlabs, we apply technology and design to empower individuals and communities to live epic lives.” Jane McGonigal explains, “SuperBetter helps you achieve your health goals- or recover from an illness or injury- by increasing your personal resilience. Resilience means staying curious, optimistic and motivated even in the face of the toughest challenges.”

          In April of 2012 The Oprah Winfry Network (OWN) and teamed up with SuperBetter Labs to launch “Oprah’s Thank You Game” on Facebook, which reportedly had 2.3 million people playing within 36 hours of the games launch.


To hear more about SuperBetter:


If you would like more information, or to play SuperBetter at no cost:  

Depression and Work Injuries in Nevada

If you have a work injury in Nevada you are more likely to become depressed.  If you do need a study to prove that there is a higher incidence of depression among workers with orthopedic injuries, you will be interested in the linked article from  California psychologist Stephen Pfeiffer, Ph.D.,  He cites a study reported in the Annals of General Psychiatry, Dr. Pfeiffer  frequently writes about depression and other  psychological conditions affecting California's injured workers. 

Unlike Dr. Pfeiffer,  I am not a doctor.  I am a lawyer who represents injured workers.  The following are my Top Ten  non-medical reasons injured workers tell me  why they feel depressed after their job accident:

  • They're hurt and in pain.  That alone makes them unhappy.
  •  A supervisor, or co-worker, or their adjuster acts as if they are faking their injury...
  • They are worried about whether they will still have a job when they are well again..
  • They are getting the run-around from whomever is supposed to be handling their claim.
  • They know they aren't getting good medical care, but don't know what to do.
  • Authorizations for medical care take forever.
  • They are worried about how they will make a living if they can't go back to their line of work. 
  • They're financially behind on bills as a result of late compensation checks, no compensation checks, or inadequate compensation checks.
  • They hear stories that they might get a settlement at the end of their claim, but have no idea what to expect, or whether to hope for anything.
  •  They are worried about needing medical care in the future if the injury ever worsens after the claim is close.
  • They know they need information, but don't know who to trust for advice.

Depression is serious.  If you are feeling completely overwhelmed or suicidal, please tell your doctor immediately, or call 911 and ask for  the suicide prevention hotline.  While it can be difficult to obtain psychological treatment for depression on a worker's compensation claim, it  can be done under the right circumstances.  More importantly, many  feelings of helplessness go away once you are armed with knowledge about how the claims process actually works.   If you  feel too lousy to actually meet with a lawyer for a free consultation, at least help call for a free guide so that you have a better understanding of Nevada workers' compensation law.   

Permanent Partial Disability Awards- 2009 Legislative Update


It's good news for injured workers  that at the last hour of the 2009 legislative session, on May 31, 2009, the Assembly and the Senate reaffirmed Senate Bill 195, overturning the governor’s veto. Section 3 of S.B. 195 requires that permanent partial disability evaluators continue to use the 5th edition of the American Medical Association’s Guide to Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.  Had this bill not passed, rating doctors would have been required to use the 6th edition of the Guides. It was the consensus among rating doctors and attorneys for injured workers that most awards for serious injuries under the 6th edition would be significantly lower.

The law regarding notice of claim closure was amended to require that the insurer notify the injured worker whether or not a rating evaluation was being scheduled, and the reason why a rating was not being scheduled, in section 6 of Assembly Bill 281.   Currently, the Notice of Claim Closure form does not give the injured worker any information about the scheduling of a rating evaluation. This amendment to the law will at least put an injured worker on notice that his treating physician has informed the insurer that there is no likelihood of impairment, and that a rating is not being scheduled. The injured worker can then evaluate options for obtaining a rating at his or her own expense with a doctor assigned from the rotating list, and perhaps file an appeal of the insurer’s determination to close the claim without a rating.   

Section 7 of S.B. 195 allows a rating doctor to consider psychological impairment during a rating for those rare stress claims accepted under the narrow confines of NRS 616C. 180.   Only physical impairment can be considered for all other claims.