The Liquor Control Board admitted that Kochanowicz suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the robbery, but argued that his claim should be denied because the robbery should be expected by employees. The LBC cited to the nearly 100 liquor store robberies in the past six years as evidence of Kochanowicz’s supposed anticipation of the crime.
Recently, however, a Commonwealth Court rejected this argument and ruled that Kochanowicz should be awarded workers’ compensation benefits. The ruling came after a six year court battle, involving numerous appeals by the LCB of the court’s initial award of workers’ compensation battles.
At the heart of the legal battle was the definition of abnormal working conditions. To receive benefits for a mental injury, such as that sustained by Kochanowicz, the injured employee must establish that the incident leading to the mental injuries occurred in abnormal working conditions. This standard exists in Pennsylvania and numerous other states.
While the LBC attempted to argue robbery does not constitute an abnormal working condition as it can be anticipated, the court rejected this line of reasoning. The decision will form important precedent in Pennsylvania and likely elsewhere, as it precludes other employees from arguing that due to the nature of the establishment, employees accept the possibility of being robbed at gunpoint as a part of the job.
Mental injuries in the workplace are not treated as typical workplace related injuries. These claims require a higher standard of proof for the petitioner due to the psychological nature of the claim. As such, they can be challenging for employees.
Stress is often raised as a work-related mental injury, and various courts evaluate these claims differently. In New Jersey, for instance, the petitioner must establish that the permanent disability resulted from objectively verified job related stress. The stress must go beyond normal work-related stress. Those mental conditions that are tied to an actually physical accident or event, as in the case of the liquor store manager, will have a better chance at recovery.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will assist you in bringing your claim for psychological work-related injuries. Due to the complex nature of these claims, it is best to employ the assistance of an attorney as soon as possible so that your claim can be filed correctly from the start.
Lundy Law: Passionately Representing the Victims of Workplace Accidents
If you have sustained an injury while on the job, the dedicated Personal Injury Attorneys at Lundy Law serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware can help. All employees injured on the job should be entitled to compensation for their medical expenses and part of their salary through the workers’ compensation system. Sometimes, however, as the case of the liquor store manager robbed at gunpoint illustrates, it can be difficult to obtain the benefits to which you are entitled. The workers’ compensation attorneys at Lundy Law have the experience, skill, and knowledge to fight for your rights as an injured employee. Call the dedicated workers’ compensation attorneys at Lundy Law today at 1 (800) LUNDYLAW® to schedule your consultation.