Workers’ Compensation - Mental Disability Caused by Abnormal Working Conditions

Summary of Pennsylvania Decisions

Payes v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Commonwealth PA State Police), No. 50 MAP 2011 (Pa., October 30, 2013)

Holding: In a rare decision granting “mental-mental” benefits, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that an on-duty police officer is entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act when he strikes and kills a mentally-disabled individual who runs in front of his car while he is driving and thereafter the officer suffers from PTSD. The Court affirmed the WCJ’s conclusion that the claimant experienced an extraordinarily unusual, abnormal and distressing work event that resulted in the officer’s disabling mental condition. This case turned on the fact that the event that caused the disability did not have any connection to the officer’s employment, other than the fact that the accident occurred while the officer was on duty. Chief Justice Castille filed a concurring and dissenting opinion. Justice Eakin filed a dissenting opinion.