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Workplace stress grounds for workers' compensation

Connecticut's workers' compensation laws grant medical expenses and lost wages where the workplace is a proven and substantial factor cause of an injury even if a worker had a pre-existing condition before an accident. Benefits are not based solely on physical injuries.

Last week, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a FedEx driver was entitled to workers' compensation when he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his new manager's demands and an especially stressful workday.

The 47-year-old claimant, a 19-year employee, was assigned a new manager who significantly increased his workload and cited him for two infractions. In addition to this stress over job security, the claimant suffered heart palpitations or an atrial flutter on a Sept. 15, 2009 workday when he fell behind his schedule and had no time for food or restroom breaks. Lengthy examinations also resulted in a diagnosis that the claimant suffered from PTSD. His employment was terminated in 2010.

The Court approved 47 weeks of temporarily total disability workers' compensation benefits that were previously granted by the Workers' Compensation Review Board. Although medical experts found that claimant suffered atrial fibrillation and arrhythmia before Sept. 2009, the Court ruled that the physical and emotional stress and dehydration from his workdays may have aggravated his pre-existing condition and allowed it to manifest.

Accordingly, it rejected arguments that the claimant engaged in extensive physical fitness activities before and after these injuries that indicated that the claimant could continue to work. The Court expressed skepticism over other arguments that most Connecticut employers make similar employees endure similar workplace conditions.

Obtaining evidence and making correct legal arguments may be essential components of these types of workers' compensation claims. Obtaining the assistance of an attorney can help pursue an injured workers' rights to compensation.

Source: Business Insurance, "Court upholds workers comp benefits for delivery driver diagnosed with PTSD," By Donna Mahoney, April 14, 2016

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