Readers of this blog are likely aware that workers’ compensation benefits are often available to individuals who are hurt while performing activities in connection with their job. While the qualifying injuries could be physical, it is possible that they could be awarded in situations where someone suffers a psychological disability due to something that happened while working, as well.
This is illustrated in a decision recently rendered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The case involved a workers’ compensation claim brought by a state trooper who struck and killed a woman with his cruiser as he drove down an interstate on his way to work. Following the incident the man did what he could to revive the woman who had run into his path. Despite his best efforts he was unable to save her. As a result of that incident the man suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and is unable to work.
The man’s initial claim for workers’ compensation benefits was denied. An appeals board and lower court agreed with that denial. In reaching that conclusion, the entities indicated that the conditions that prompted his condition are to be expected when one works as a law enforcement officer. Despite these rejections the officer pursued his claim to the Supreme Court which ultimately agreed with him. The opinion specifically notes that the trooper’s experience is not one that is either normally anticipated or experienced by one in his line of work.
This case is a good example of why an injured worker should in many cases not give up after an initial denial of workers’ compensation benefits is rendered. Though it took work and a total of six years, the man was finally provided what he was entitled to.
Source: PennLive, “Supreme Court orders workers compensation benefits for state trooper involved in traumatic fatal crash on I-81,” Matt Miller, Nov. 4, 2013