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Montgomery & Bucks County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Saturday, October 31, 2015

PTSD and Workers' Compensation in Pennsylvania

Is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) considered a compensable injury under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition characterized by extreme bouts of anxiety and/or depression triggered by an exceptionally traumatic event. The disorder is often associated with military service, but is also implicated in victims of violent crime or witnesses to horrific disasters.

Following years of intense litigation, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Board finally approved full disability benefits based solely on a diagnosis of PTSD – but this victory was not without significant pushback and obstacle. Today, PTSD is a recognized and acknowledged disability triggering full- or part-time workers’ compensation benefits, provided the facts surrounding the traumatic event meet certain criteria.

History of PTSD in PA Workers’ Compensation Law

The hallmark PTSD workers’ compensation case occurred just two years ago and involved a PTSD disability claim by a state trooper claiming an inability to return to work after a woman successfully committed suicide by jumping in front of the trooper’s vehicle as he traveled to work. At the outset, his claim was denied on the premise that “normal working conditions for law enforcement include accidents, bodily injuries and death.” However, on appeal, the appellate tribunal held otherwise, concluding that this particular incident is not “normal” within the range of law enforcement duties, and was ultimately compensable.

In 2015, another PTSD case wound its way through the appeals process, and involved a 30-year employee of the PA Liquor Control Board who was violently robbed in April, 2008. While enduring constant fear that he would be robbed and bound again, the employee was unable to return to work and was ultimately diagnosed with PTSD. Again, the initial claim for benefits was denied on the egregious premise that robbery was a “normal” component of working as a liquor store clerk. On appeal, however, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated this opinion and remanded the case back to Commonwealth Court for a retrial – in which the claimant was ultimately successful.

If you are considering a workers’ compensation claim and would like to discuss your options, please do not hesitate to contact Louis P. Lombardi & Associates, P.C. today: 610-239-7600.


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| Phone: 610-239-7600 | 888-818-4343
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