Mental Injuries Can Be Compensable
People who suffer mental injuries on the job may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, such Claimants face high hurdles in order to get benefits for occupationally induced mental conditions.
Injured Claimant not only needs to show that they suffered a disabling mental injury as a result of the work environment, they also have to show that the condition has been caused by abnormal working conditions. The Appellate Courts in Pennsylvania have defined abnormal working conditions in such a way as to make it very difficult for workers to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits for work-induced mental conditions. For instance, the Courts have held that a police officer who developed depression as a result of hitting a pedestrian with his vehicle does not qualify for benefits because of the nature of police work. Furthermore, Appellate Courts have held that a retail worker who develops a mental condition as a result of being robbed while working in a high crime area does not qualify for benefits simply because robberies are expected in a high crime area. The Courts have held that these disabling conditions developed by the workers constitute a subjective reaction to abnormal working conditions.
Interestingly, the Appellate Courts have been very flexible in finding ways to deny benefits to injured Claimants with these scenarios. The Appellate Courts apply a broad based scenario to deny benefits to injured police officers, even though an officer working in rural Pennsylvania may have a job considerably less dangerous than a job working in a major metropolitan area. Conversely, the Appellate Courts have used the problems of a specific geographic area to deny benefits to retail workers who are robbed in a job in major metropolitan areas. The only thing consistent about the case law that has developed has been one to favor employers over employees.