WV: Hijacked Driver Wins PTSD Claim Despite Restrictive Mental-Mental Statute

WV: Hijacked Driver Wins PTSD Claim Despite Restrictive Mental-Mental Statute

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia recently affirmed a decision by the state’s Board of Review that awarded benefits for a PTSD injury sustained by a UPS driver who was accosted and his truck hijacked by a man with a rifle.  The gunman fired a shot into the air near the driver’s side door, threatened the driver’s life, and forced him to drive towards a police station. During a later encounter with police, the driver was able to escape, and the gunman was fatally shot by law enforcement.  The claims administrator rejected the driver’s PTSD claim and the Office of Judges affirmed, concluding that W. Va. Code § 23-4-1f barred the driver's claim for benefits for PTSD developed as a result of the hijacking since the driver had not sustained any physical injuries as a result of the incident.  The Board of Review reversed, finding that the driver did sustain a personal injury in the course of and resulting from his employment—he was assaulted by the sound of the gunfire, physically detained, and stripped of his keys.  The high court agreed and added that the driver’s condition was manifested by “demonstrable physical symptoms, including sleep disturbances and jumpiness.”

Reported by Thomas A. Robinson, J.D.

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

See United Parcel Serv., Inc. v. Hannah, 2013 W. Va. LEXIS 1165 (Oct. 25, 2013) [2013 W. Va. LEXIS 1165 (Oct. 25, 2013)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 56.04, 56.06 [56.04, 56.06]

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