MENTAL INJURIES ARE COMPENSATED AS INDUSTRIAL DISABILITY INJURIES. Under Iowa law mental injuries are compensable in the workers’ compensation system. Mental injuries are unscheduled injuries. Therefore, the emphasis in figuring out the amount of damages is based on determining how much the mental injury reduces the injured worker’s future earning capacity. (See here and here for longer discussions on how industrial disability injuries are valued).
AGGRAVATION OF PRE-EXISTING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES. Similar to physical injuries, an aggravation of a pre-existing mental health issue is still compensable under Iowa law as long as the aggravation is substantial. As an example, look at the Iowa Supreme Court case of Cedar Rapids Community School District v. Pease, 807 N.W.2d 839 (Iowa 2011). In the Pease case the claimant did have a pre-existing history of depression. However, the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner, and later the Iowa Supreme Court, found that the claimant’s physical injury caused a substantial aggravation of her depression, and that the claimant was entitled to receive weekly benefits for this increase in her depression.
MENTAL-MENTAL INJURIES. Mental health injuries that arise without physical injury are frequently called “mental-mental” injuries. By contrast, mental injuries which are connected to a physical work injury are called “physical-mental” injuries. There are some important differences in how these two different types of mental injuries are treated. I will first talk about mental-mental injuries.