Officer Denied Workers’ Compensation Following Work Incident

The rights to workers’ compsantion benefits have been denied for one local deputy. According to Insurance Journal, he filed a workers’ compensation claim in an attempt to claim benefits for mental distress that he believes was the result of an on-the-job shooting. The officer had to shoot a suspect during the course of his job. The South Carolina Supreme Court has denied the claim, saying that using that type of force on the job is expected.
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A number of states recognize mental injuries as a compensatory work injury. Unfortunately, the state of South Carolina doesn’t allow it, saying that compensation is only granted when the accident was out of the ordinary and unexpected on the job. In addition to these conditions, workers are also required to show extensive medical evidence that proves there’s a link between the accident on the job and the mental illness or injury.

The original work incident happened back in October of 2009 when the officer was dispatched to a home in Spartanburg. He was responding to disturbance calls between residents in the area. While responding to the call, the officer shot a man who was said to have threatened his life.

After the shooting, the officer says that he suffered from both depression and anxiety. He sought treatment for these conditions. Based on his symptoms following the incident, both his psychologist and psychiatrist said that he was unable to return to the job.

In March of the following year, he filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, but was denied. It was concluded that the shooting wasn’t unusual for his line of work and that he hadn’t suffered a compensable mental injury because of the accident. It was noted that this officer had received the proper training to deal with these kinds of on-the-job incidents and that the officer was aware of the fact that he could be involved in one of these incidents through his employment with the department.

The officer appealed the initial ruling to the appellate panel and then again to the Supreme Court. The officer argued his case, saying that killing a person is unusual for his job and that work stats show that these kinds of incidents only occur in the department about once a year, classifying it as an unusual work event.

He was again denied. The courts said that unusual work accidents are determined by their conditions and not by their frequency.

This decision has shined light on a new idea, urging South Carolina lawmakers to look into “updating” the state’s requirements on mental benefits. Lawmakers are being urged to take into account the scientific and technological progress in medicine and psychology.

Mental disorders can be the result of many work conditions, even some that are less stressful than an officer’s. If you feel that you’ve suffered a mental disorder or illness because of an incident you experienced at work, call an attorney to help you to fight for the compensation that you deserve.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a work accident in Spartanburg or elsewhere in the surrounding areas, contact the Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Lee Law Offices, P.A. to schedule a free and confidential appointment to discuss your case. Call 1-800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries:

Working to Protect Young Employees Over Summer Break and Beyond, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, July 20, 2012

National Emphasis Program Working to Protect Workers in Nursing and Residential Care Facilities, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, July 17, 2012

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