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State Supreme Court rules on man's compensation claim

A ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court may play a factor in future workers' compensation claims in the state. A man who was injured at work was compensated for his physical pain but not for his emotional pain. This is because his mental health issues were reportedly unrelated to the physical injuries he sustained. The Supreme Court ruled that in order for a worker to be compensated by the state for mental health issues, the issues must be related to the physical injury.

In 2009, the man was involved in a trucking accident on I-70 in Clark County, Ohio. A driver crashed into the rear of the company dump truck that the claimant was driving. That driver was killed in the collision. The truck driver was injured in the incident and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, claiming that the accident caused his mental anguish. Despite this connection, the claim made to the Bureau of Workers' Compensation did not provide benefits for the man's PTSD. The ruling eventually made its way to the state Supreme Court where a justice wrote that state law bars any benefits being paid for an issue that is not connected to a physical injury.

That justice said that the man's physical injuries were certainly caused by the accident and that his PTSD arose at the same time, likely due to the accident. But, she said, the case contains evidence that indicates his PTSD was not caused by his injuries in said accident. A medical expert that testified for the man argued in opposition to this during his testimony, saying that his PTSD was definitely related to the trauma caused by the accident. Another expert -- this one for the trucking company -- said that there was no connection between the two.

The Supreme Court decision was not unanimous, with two justices voting against the ruling. One of them wrote in his dissent that an injured employee should be entitled to compensation for mental anguish whether it was caused by an accident or an injury. A thorough understanding of the legal realm is crucial to making a workers' compensation claim, as evidenced by this man's case. This is why many people seek out the advice of an attorney before filing a claim.

Source:  New York Times, "Really? Cycling Is the Top Sport for Head Injuries" Anahad O'Connor, Jun. 03, 2013

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