Answer: Sometimes. It depends on the facts of your specific case.
If you have PTSD from a traumatic workplace incident, it might be covered by workers’ compensation. As with most work injuries, it depends on the facts of your case. In 2014, the Virginia Court of Appeals decided in favor of a UPS driver that came upon the scene of a gruesome homicide and filed to have PTSD covered as a work-related injury.
The Court stated as follows: “The uncontroverted evidence is that claimant obviously stumbled on a completely unexpected, horrific and terrifying sight. He described the horror as a “really really gruesome scene.” Specifically, claimant observed blood on Ms. Fassett’s face and the bottom part of her mouth. Claimant further stated that when he looked at Ms. Fassett’s face he could tell she had “shrapnel and bullet wounds in her face and her face was pretty much gone — it was all bloody.” Claimant’s shock was evident immediately as he testified that he cried at the scene “pretty much right after [he] saw [Ms. Fassett]” and that he vomited while waiting for 911 responders because he “felt nauseat[ed] and overwhelmed.” UPS v. Prince, 63 Va. App. 702 (2014)
This UPS driver came upon a horrifying scene that he could not have anticipated. He did this in the course of his employment and suffered from PTSD as a result. The Court ultimately approved his claim for benefits and awarded benefits to the UPS driver.
However, if you work in a job where observing trauma is expected and common, your PTSD might not be covered due the fact that is should be expected that you would be dealing with such scenes. The Virginia General Assembly recently tried to remedy this situation somewhat in 2020 by enacting section 65.2-107 of the Code of Virginia. This Code section allows police and firefighters to file for PTSD if the “qualifying event” led to PTSD after July 1, 2020. Unfortunately, this statute left much to be interpreted by workers’ comp judges and it is still not clear how much this new statute will actually help our first responders to receive the benefits and protection they deserve.
Once again, the bottom line is that it depends on the unique facts of each situation. If you get PTSD from a work-related incident, contact an experienced workers’ comp lawyer soon.
These statements are for general information purposes only and not considered specific legal advice. Mr. Shoen would need to meet with you individually to ensure client confidentiality and would need additional information not provided in this article. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult an attorney directly for legal advice.
To learn more about the Law Office of Darren Shoen, or to speak with a lawyer, visit their website at shoenlaw.com.