Kentucky law permits pyschiatric (PTSD) claim based only on temporary physical injury in workers comp: WAL-MART STORES, INC. V. SMITH (COA 6/13/2008)

WAL-MART STORES, INC. V. SMITH
WORKERS COMP:  Work-Relatedness of PTSD
2007-CA-001469
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING
PANEL: NICKELL PRESIDING; CAPERTON,TAYLOR CONCUR
WORKERS COMP
DATE: 6/13/2008

The claimant alleged an injury to her low back and post-traumatic stress disorder when the Wal-mart store where she was working was shaken by a blast from a nearby mining operation. She was awarded benefits for a temporary low back injury and permanent disability for PTSD. Wal-Mart appealed on the basis that she did not prove a physical injury, and that a psychiatric disability can only be upheld if there is a permanent physical injury. The Court rejected these arguments on the basis that Kentucky law allows a psychiatric claim based only on temporary physical injury, and that there was substantial evidence of a physical injury. The Court included scathing criticism of Wal-Mart’s arguments particularly since they cited to an Iowa case to argue that Kentucky had rejected using a claimant’s own testimony as substantial evidence of injury (it has not), and relied on Wal-Mart’s surveillance videos as proof that the claimant was not injured in the blast, when they were unclear and incomplete.

Digested by Peter Naake

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