Defense of Psychological Injury Claims Under Iowa Workers’ Compensation Law

by | Jul 8, 2013

For the past 20 years, Iowa Workers’ Compensation law has been interpreted to allow an employee to bring a workers’ compensation claim for purely mental injuries. By that, a claimant in Iowa has the ability to request workers’ compensation benefits even in situations where there has been no physical injury to their person. However, an employee attempting to state a claim for the same must satisfy both medical and legal causation tests. The employee must prove that his or her alleged mental injury was caused by work-related stress of greater magnitude than the average daily mental stress experienced by other workers’ employed in the same or similar jobs. Note that the “other workers” standard is not limited to solely workers for the same employer as that employing the claimant. Additionally, the employee then must have expert medical evidence to demonstrate that the employee’s alleged injury is actually connected to the employee’s employment.

Accordingly, when an employer or insurer is investigating a purely mental claim without a preceding traumatic physical event, the focus should immediately be on obtaining a better understanding, and documenting the same, regarding the activities/exposure that allegedly led to the worker’s psychological claim and/or whether other similarly situated employees experienced the same situation. In that case, documentation that other workers had undergone the same workplace stress can be strong evidence against a worker’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits arising out of a purely psychological injury. For more information regarding investigation of workers’ compensation claims arising out of purely mental or psychological injuries, please contact Iowa workers’ compensation attorney Paul Barta at or 402-475-1075.