The mental health claims of employees in Ohio are simply not covered by workers' compensation, according to a new decision of the Ohio Supreme Court. The sole exception that they allowed for is when the mental health issue can be shown to be related to a compensable physical injury received at work.
The ruling was entered on a 5-2 vote and had the effect of denying a truck driver's claim for benefits after he was in a traffic accident while on the job. Another motorist suffered injuries that resulted in his death after smashing into the back of the truck driver's vehicle. While the truck driver was granted workers' compensation benefits for his ensuing physical injuries, benefits were denied for a post-traumatic stress disorder on the grounds that it was not directly related to his physical injuries.
This ruling was upheld by the state high court, despite evidence that included testimony by a medical expert that the stress disorder was in fact caused by the trauma of being in a fatal accident in which another motorist died.
The case illustrates just how difficult it can be sometimes for workers injured on the job to be fully compensated for all aspects of their injuries. Injured employees definitely need experienced workers' compensation attorneys to protect their rights.
A very strong dissent in the court's decision argued that the driver, having definitely suffered a physical injury on the job, should also be compensated for mental injuries. Being "haunted" by the trauma and horror of the original accident, it was argued, should be just as compensable for the depression it brings as your physical injuries.
Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Workers' comp need not cover mental-health claim, justices rule" Alan Johnson, Jun. 05, 2013