Most of us understand that Illinois workers who are injured or who contract a work-related illness are entitled to workers' compensation benefits.
A few days ago, a court ruled that an Illinois-based company would have to pay workers' comp benefits to a man who sustained no injury in the course of his work, but did witness two horrific accidents in the workplace and as a result suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The man worked as a melt shop attendant in Tennessee for Joliet, Illinois-based Gerdau Ameristeel Inc. The Tennessee Supreme Court recently ruled in his favor, allowing him to get compensation after witnessing the aftermaths of the deaths of two fellow workers in the workplace.
He also filed his claim more than a year after the two accidents. In Tennessee, a worker has a year to file their injury or illness claim. The man and his workers' compensation attorney successfully argued that he had filed his claim within a year of being diagnosed with PTSD, which meets the requirements of the law.
The man was in the workplace when a fellow worker fell to his death in February of 2008. The man was asked to bring a defibrillator to the scene of the accident, where he saw his co-worker's body lying in a pool of blood.
Just two months later, another co-worker fell to his death in another area of the plant. Earlier that same day, the man had spoken with his fallen co-worker, delivering a cake the co-worker bought from the man's daughter for a fundraiser.
He again went to the scene of the accident and saw a medical rescue crew attempting to revive the co-worker.
Though he declined grief counseling at the time, he began to experience anxiety, crying spells, shortness of breath and a pounding heart when returning to work.
He was eventually diagnosed with PTSD and filed for workers' comp, which his employer rejected. However, he has prevailed before his state's highest court and he will receive permanent partial disability compensation as a result.
Source: workforce.com, "PTSD of Employee Who Witnessed Deaths at Work Is Compensable," Sheena Harrison, June 14, 2012