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Washington: Narrow Definition of “Injury” Means Public Defender May Be Able to Sue Employer for Work-Related PTSD

March 22, 2019 (1 min read)

A county public defender, who alleged that she sustained a mental injury in the form of PTSD following a harrowing period of time in which she was allegedly stalked and harassed by a "client," may move ahead with a civil action filed against her employer, held a state appellate court. The attorney alleged, in relevant part, that she had been forced to endure a hostile work environment and had suffered because of the negligence of her employer in allowing the harassment to continue. The trial court dismissed her claim, finding that it was barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act. The appellate court, noting that PTSD and other mental injuries could not be compensable under the occupational disease portions of the law, and noting further, that the IIA did not provide coverage for PTSD that was due to a series of events, instead of a single, traumatic incident, found that there was a genuine issue of fact as to whether the attorney’s PTSD and related injuries constituted a compensable “injury” under the IIA.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See LaRose v. King County, 2019 Wash. App. LEXIS 646 (Mar. 19, 2019)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 56.04.

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

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see