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Workers' compensation PTSD finding upheld by appeals court

Generally speaking, most folks connect post-traumatic stress disorder with soldiers and veterans. It is a common term in public forums, and is understandably concerning to military families and their friends. But the term also encompasses many other causes besides war participation. Any traumatic event in a person's life can cause PTSD. According to a workers' compensation commission decision, that can include a workplace injury as well.

As he would do in Florida, an allegedly injured delivery service driver filed a claim in another state for workers' compensation benefits. It was based on an emotional trauma that the driver maintains he suffered when he came upon a grisly murder scene while on the job. Reportedly, in 2013, the long-time driver was making a delivery to a regular customer when he found the 65-year-old woman prostrate. He reports at first he thought she had fainted. He soon realized she had been fatally shot. Allegedly traumatically affected by the gruesome scene, the man physically reacted with crying and vomiting while he waited for the paramedics. As it turns out, the victim's daughter was also killed inside the house. An arrest has been made according to reports.

Records show a month later the man filed his claim for benefits based on PTSD. The commission ruled the unexpected sight of his 10-year customer in such a state was, in fact, shocking, traumatic and catastrophic of sufficient degree to designate it as a compensable injury by accident. The company argued that the brief sight of the woman couldn't have been suddenly shocking or frightening enough to cause only a psychological injury.

It isn't unusual for a company, especially one with many resources, to fight workers' compensation claims. A strong representation with effective expert evidence to back the claim is often what it takes to succeed. For this injured man, the strategy used was successful in that the appeals court upheld the commission's finding. The judge found that while the company's assertion of short-time exposure was true, the time-frame of the whole shocking incident was more than an hour. Benefits will be paid.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Murder Scene Find Nets UPS Driver PTSD Benefits" Jeff D. Gorman, Sep. 29, 2014

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