Psychological Conditions: Differences in Recovery Between Ohio Workers Compensation & Personal Injury Law

by Dean Pavick on February 9, 2014

 Ohio Workers Compensation & Personal Injury Law

In past blogs, we have pointed out significant differences between the types of damages recoverable in an Ohio workers compensation case and in an Ohio personal injury case. A recent workers compensation case decided by the Ohio Supreme Court reinforces the limited recovery for psychological conditions which develop after a work injury or  accident. In the case of Armstrong v. John R Jurgensen Co. the Court held that a driver physically injured when his stopped dump truck was rear-ended by another vehicle speeding at a high rate,  could not recover for a psychological condition diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) in his workers compensation claim. Following the accident the injured truck driver(Armstrong) climbed out of his truck . Armstrong found the driver of the other vehicle bleeding and apparently dead with fluid leaking from both vehicles which Armstrong was afraid might catch fire or explode. Armstrong was treated at the hospital for his physical injuries. Armstrong ultimately was treated for PTSD. The Industrial Commission additionally allowed the PTSD as part of the workers compensation claim. The Supreme Court took a hardline, ultraconservative approach in reversing the Industrial Commission by finding that the term, “injury” under the Ohio Workers Compensation law, does not embrace the entire episode or accident giving rise to the injured worker’s physical injuries; that the psychological condition must be causally related to the physical injuries and not simply the involvement in the accident.

Ohio workers compensation law already prohibits recovery for the allowance of psychological conditions or mental stress cases which are not accompanied by a physical injury. Thus, if the employee’s boss and/or co-worker verbally abuses the employee or creates an intolerable work environment which leads to the employee developing a psychological condition, there is no recovery under the workers compensation law.

Ohio Personal Injury Law – Personal Injury Attorney

In contrast, Ohio personal injury law permits recovery for psychological conditions arising from the entire accident and not just from the physical injuries. There may also be recovery for pure mental “injuries” such as in legal actions for negligent or intentional infliction of serious emotional distress. Emotional distress is also recoverable as part of the damages for pain and suffering in a personal injury case.There is no recovery for pain and suffering in an Ohio workers compensation claim.

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