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Trooper qualifies for workers' compensation

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of a state trooper who sought workers' compensation benefits after a fatal pedestrian accident. Originally, the Commonwealth Court and Workers' Compensation Appeal Board denied benefits to the trooper, saying that dangerous situations should be expected in his line of work. The Supreme Court, however, said that the accident was especially traumatic and that the trooper is allowed to receive compensation for his resulting psychological disabilities.

The workplace injury occurred while the trooper drove his police cruiser to work along Interstate 81 in the dark on Nov. 29, 2006. On his way to the Newport police barracks, a mentally ill woman ran in front of his vehicle. After hitting her with his cruiser, he attempted to revive her while trying to stop oncoming cars from hitting the two of them.

Despite the trooper's efforts, the 28-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene. After taking some time off of work, the trooper returned in 2007 with debilitating feelings of anxiousness and stress. According to court records, mental disabilities that resulted from the crash left the man unable to continue his work. Although life-and-death situations are expected in police work, one judge noted that this particular event was not something normally experienced or anticipated.

A psychological injury experienced at work can often be just as debilitating as a physical injury. Because certain occupations require workers to be mentally prepared for danger, anxiety disorders can mean that workers are unable to return to the job. After experiencing an unusual and especially traumatic incident at work, victims may file a workers' compensation claim to seek benefits for lost wages.

Source: Penn Live, "Supreme Court orders workers compensation benefits for state trooper involved in traumatic fatal crash on I-81", Matt Miller , November 04, 2013

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