Before July 1, 1991, emotional/mental stress claims were compensable under certain circumstances.  Senate Bill 218 changed “stress” claims into “mental impairment”, which means a disability arising from an accidental injury arising out of and in the course of employment when the accidental injury involved no physical injury and consists of a psychologically traumatic event that is generally outside of a worker’s usual experience and would evoke significant symptoms of distress in a worker in similar circumstances.  A mental impairment will not be considered to arise out of and in the course of employment if it results from a disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, lay-off, demotion, promotion, termination, retirement or similar action taken in good faith by the employer.  A mental impairment which is the basis of a claim must have arisen primarily from the claimant’s current employment situation.  The claim of mental impairment cannot be based, in whole or in part, upon facts or circumstances that are common to all fields of employment.  The mental impairment which is the basis of a claim must be in and of itself either sufficient to render the employee temporarily or permanently disabled from pursuing the occupation from which the claim arose, or to require medical or psychological treatment.  If the claimant is entitled to benefits for a mental impairment claim, they are limited to 12 weeks of medical impairment benefits, but this limitation does not apply if they are a victim of a crime of violence.  When the employee is not a victim of a crime or violence, the limitation of 12 weeks of medical impairment benefits simply means that a claimant can receive money for permanent impairment if they have not exhausted 12 weeks of temporary total disability benefits, and then they can receive benefits only for the number of weeks left in the 12 week period.  The statutory limitation does not apply to medical benefits, bodily disfigurement or length of entitlement to temporary benefits.  Effective for injuries occurring after July 1, 1999, this limitation also applies to mental impairment resulting from physical injuries as long as there is no permanent neurological impairment.  (Sections 8-41-301(2), 8-41-302(1), C.R.S.).

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