New York: PTSD Claimant Fails to Show Level of Stress Was Unusual

Repeating the New York rule regarding stress claims, that mental injuries caused by work-related stress are compensable if the claimant can show that the stress that caused the injury was “greater than that which other similarly situated workers experienced in the normal work environment,” a New York appellate court affirmed a decision by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board that denied benefits to a claimant who alleged that work-related stress caused her to develop depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.  The court observed that medical proof established that claimant sustained incapacitating mental trauma as a result of her work.  But while claimant complained of longstanding harassment at the hands of her immediate supervisor, testimony by the supervisor contradicted those allegations and offered reasonable explanations for his behavior. Claimant testified she experienced more severe mental distress and stopped working after a staff meeting at which she was singled out and humiliated by one of her superiors, but the employer's witnesses directly stated that claimant had not been singled out in any way at the meeting and that she did not appear to be upset at the time. The Board was free to credit the testimony of the employer's witnesses.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See In the Matter of Guillo v. New York City Housing Auth., 2014 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2097 (Mar. 27, 2014) [2014 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2097 (Mar. 27, 2014)]

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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