West Virginia: Rush of Air, Dust, Debris From Explosion Satisfied “Physical” Component for PTSD Claim

West Virginia is within the group of states that does not allow recovery of workers’ compensation benefits for mental-mental injuries [see W. Va. Code § 23-4-1f  (2013)].

Affirming a decision by the state’s Board of Review, the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals recently affirmed an award of benefits in favor of a coal miner who, along with others, was enveloped by air, dust, gas and debris at the time of the massive Upper Big Branch mine explosion in 2010.  The Office of Judges had earlier determined that the miner had not suffered a “physical” injury and that his claim was, therefore, strictly “mental-mental” and non-compensable.  The Board of Review disagreed, finding that the miner was “hit by a rush of air, dust and debris” following the massive explosion and that the miner suffered some physical symptoms: problems with his ears, sinus congestion, and headaches.  The high court indicated that the Board’s determination that the miner’s physical and psychiatric injuries were in the course of and resulting from his employment was not erroneous.

Reported by Thomas A. Robinson, J.D.

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See Performance Coal Co. v. Williams, 2013 W. Va. LEXIS 866 (July 19, 2013) [2013 W. Va. LEXIS 866 (July 19, 2013)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 56.04 [56.04]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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