Five Recent Workers’ Comp Cases You Should Know About (9/23/2011) – Robberies Were Normal Condition of Work, So Mental Injury Claim Not Allowed

Larson's Spotlight on Mental Injury, Jurisdiction, Disqualification for Benefits, Evidence of Disability, and Pain Impairment. Larson's surveys the latest case developments that you need to know about. Thomas A. Robinson, the staff writer for Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, has compiled the list below.

PA: Armed Robbery of Liquor Store Was Part of Worker's Normal Working Conditions; No Recovery for Mental Injury Claim

In Pennsylvania, in order to recover workers' compensation benefits for a psychic injury, the worker must prove that he or she was exposed to "abnormal working conditions and that his psychological problems are not a subjective reaction to normal working conditions" [see Babich v. Workers' Comp. Appeal Bd. (CPA Dept. of Corrections), 922 A.2d 57, 63 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2007)].  A Pennsylvania appellate court recently held that a liquor store employee, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after an armed robbery at the store, had not been subjected to abnormal working conditions.  Ninety-nine similar robberies had occurred in the employer's retail stores since 2002; indeed, four had occurred in the immediate vicinity within weeks of the robbery involving the claimant worker.  Robberies are a "normal" condition of liquor store employment, held the court.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 467. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, §§ 44.05, 56.06.

SD: Resident Status is Insufficient to Confer Jurisdiction for Out-of-State Injury

A South Dakota resident, who worked at a plant in Wyoming and sustained a work-related injury there, could not maintain a claim for workers' compensation benefits in South Dakota where the only connection between South Dakota and the employment relationship was the worker's status as a South Dakota resident throughout her employment, held the Supreme Court of South Dakota recently. That factor alone was not sufficient to create the substantial connection necessary to conclude that South Dakota was the place of the employment relationship. The claimant had been hired in Wyoming, worked exclusively in Wyoming, and was injured in Wyoming. There was no connection to South Dakota aside from the claimant's residence.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 S.D. LEXIS 115. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 143.06.

LA: False Statement As to Drug Use While Under Influence of Post-Trauma Morphine Did Not Disqualify Claimant From Receiving Workers' Compensation Benefits

A statement by a severely injured worker to trauma unit staff that he did not use "street drugs," when he later admitted smoking marijuana two weeks before his injury and where he tested positive for marijuana at the time he received treatment for the injury, was not the type of false statement made for the purpose of securing benefits that would support forfeiture of workers' compensation benefits under La. R.S. 23:1208, held a Louisiana appellate court recently.  The court observed that the drug test would have been performed with or without the claimant's statement and, more importantly, at the time he made the statement about "street drug" use, he was under the influence of morphine-which had been administered while he was being air lifted to the trauma center.  The worker was unable to sign his own signature on the hospital consent forms and was still under severe shock and distress from the accident, with his foot in a state of near amputation. This was not the sort of false statement contemplated by the statute.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 La. App. LEXIS 1061. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 39.03.

NC: Deputy Commissioner Must Base TTD Award on Evidence of Disability, Not "Reprehensible Behavior" of Employer

A single finding of fact that the injured worker had received unemployment compensation for a one-year period of time and had conducted at least two employment searches each week to remain qualified for the unemployment benefits is insufficient to support an award for temporary total disability, absent other evidence, held a North Carolina appellate court recently.  Indicating that it appeared that the Industrial Commission attempted to fashion a remedy for the injured worker based only upon the "reprehensible behavior" of the employer and not the law-the worker demonstrated no entitlement to compensation beyond payment of medical expenses-the court observed that the worker had essentially presented his case before the Deputy Commissioner as a wrongful or malicious termination claim and that the comments of the Deputy Commissioner at the end of the hearing agreed with that theory.  No competent evidence supported the Deputy's findings.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 N.C. App. LEXIS 2092. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 130.04.

ND: Administrative Rules Regarding Pain Impairment Do Not Conflict With AMA Guides

The Supreme Court of North Dakota recently affirmed a decision that an injured worker had sustained an 8 percent impairment (and not more) for pain, based upon the administrative rules for assessing pain impairment promulgated by the state's Workforce Safety & Insurance ("WSI"). The worker argued N.D. Admin. Code § 92-01-02-25(4), which purports to "cap" pain impairments at a maximum of nine percent, conflicts with the statute it implements, N.D.C.C.§ 65-05-12.2(10).  He contended that the WSI was required to follow the 5th Edition of the AMA Guides and that the Guides gave no indication that disability for pain should be so capped at 9 percent.  The court held that the rules were designed to deal with an area not sufficiently covered by the AMA Guides.  The promulgation of the rules was not without a rational basis and the disability determination was, therefore, affirmed.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 N.D. LEXIS 194. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 80.07.

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

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