Payes v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, 25 PAWCLR 174 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2010).
Ruling: The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board's denial of the claimant's claim petition.
What it means: Although a claimant in a normally highly stressful working environment such as a police officer may not have a higher burden of proof, it is often more difficult to establish abnormal working conditions in a job that is, by its nature, highly stressful.
Summary: The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that the claimant was not exposed to abnormal working conditions that caused his psychological injury. The claimant, a state trooper, filed a claim petition alleging that he suffered post traumatic stress disorder after striking and killing a pedestrian. The Workers' Compensation Judge granted the petition, concluding that the claimant developed a compensable mental injury resulting from a mental stimulus as a result of an abnormal working condition. The Workers' Compensation Appeals Board reversed, determining that the incident did not constitute an abnormal working condition given the nature of the claimant's stressful and perilous profession. Encounters involving fatalities were a foreseeable part of the job and not an unheard of occurrence. The court affirmed, finding that the claimant was not entitled to benefits. The events that transpired were not above and beyond what would be considered normal working conditions for a state trooper.
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January 20, 2011
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