I have just witnessed a horrible accident at my job and I believe I will suffer permanent mental distress. Do I have a case?

West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion

This has been a rough week for workers in Texas. Workers in West, Texas at the fertilizer plant and specifically, the workers at the Exxon Mobil refinery in Beaumont who endured a major fire at one of Exxon's hydrotreater units. Our firm represents some of the contract workers who sustained injuries in the fire. In addition to other permanent bodily injuries, nearly all of them will suffer the mental distress of this experience for the rest of their lives.

People who experienced the fire at the Exxon refinery in Beaumont and the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas may suffer from PTSD for the rest of their lives. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a mental disorder that is linked to an external cause. For example, catastrophic events, such as the two events mentioned above, may cause people to "re-experience" the event through frightening symptoms such as flashbacks, fear, anxiety, avoidance, and nightmares.

Exxon Mobil Refinery fire, Guiseppe Barranco photo

So, what should you do if you feel your experience of a catastrophic work event has caused permanent mental distress?

Here are 3 helpful tips:

1. Get Professional Help.

Before taking any other actions, you should contact your physician and receive a referral to a reputable psychiatrist or counselor. Receiving treatment for mental health has long been considered taboo in American culture. Studies show that people who have "macho-men" occupations such as professional athletes, construction workers, and rig workers have an even greater tendency to hide mental health issues. Nonetheless, there are many treatment options available for people who have experienced tragic and traumatic work incidents. It is wise to take full advantage of the treatment options as soon as you become aware of the symptoms of PTSD.

2. Talk to Your Supervisor.

If possible, it may be helpful to be upfront with your supervisor about your mental distress related to a work catastrophe. Being honest with your supervisor may prepare him or her for any future drop offs in productivity, for days you may need to be absent to receive treatment, or for any other future complications that may arise. In extreme cases of trauma, many supervisors will do their best to accomodate you as you deal with the lasting effects of the incident.

3. Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney.

The law will compensate for permanent mental disorders that are obtained or aggravated by a catastrophic work event. it is common for people to only associate a work injury with a sore back or a broken bone. However, Texas Courts have consistently found permanent mental disorders to be a compensable injury under the law.

If you would like to speak to one of our experienced Texas injury lawyers about the mental distress you have suffered from a catastrophic event, contact us now. Call us at 877-724-7800 or fill out a contact form on the website.

(photo credits: West, Texas fertilizer plant in ruins: AP Images, Exxon Mobil's Beaumont refinery: Guiseppe Barranco)