About a year ago we posted a blog from a colleague of ours, Tom Domer from Wisconsin, on this topic. However, Nebraska laws are different from Wisconsin laws on this matter, and this distinction is important.
As a reminder of that post, Mr. Domer pointed out that Wisconsin allows workers’ compensation benefits for workers who suffer from mental injuries unaccompanied by physical injury (so called “mental-mental” injuries).
Unlike in Wisconsin, mental injuries in Nebraska are only compensable if the psychiatric problem or depression is a product of a physical work-related injury (“physical-mental” injuries). An exception to this rule is that first responders (sheriff, police, state patrol, firefighters, and EMT/paramedics) may recover work comp benefits for mental-mental injuries in Nebraska.
In sum, Nebraska limits mental-mental injuries only to first responders, and limits workers’ compensation coverage for mental injuries even when they are accompanied by physical injuries.
The Nebraska courts tend to split hairs as to whether a mental injury is caused by the physical injury or whether the mental injury is caused by something else. For example, if the mental injury is shown to have been caused by the stress of work or the stress of the workers’ compensation process or litigation, the mental injury will not be covered under work comp.
In sum, Nebraska limits mental-mental injuries only to first responders, and limits workers’ compensation coverage for mental injuries even when they are accompanied by physical injuries. Therefore, it is important that if you have a mental issue after your work comp injury, make sure to report to your doctor that it is from the physical injury and not from the stress of your workers’ compensation claim, if that is accurate for your situation. If not properly reported and/or documented, your mental injury many not be covered by workers’ compensation even if the depression came soon after your back injury.