On June 4, 2013, the Ohio Supreme Court issued its decision in Armstrong v. Jurgenson, Slip Opinion No. 2013-Ohio-2237. As previously published in this Blog, this case concerned a workers’ compensation claimant who was diagnosed with PTSD following a work related motor vehicle accident. The issue before the Court was whether claimant’s PTSD is a compensable injury under Ohio Workers’ Compensation law. The Court, in a 5-2 decision, held that claimant’s PTSD is not a compensable injury under Ohio Workers’ Compensation law because claimant’s PTSD was not caused by claimant’s physical injuries. In so ruling, the Court applied the plain language of the statute and its “arisen from” standard.
“Pursuant to the plain language of R.C. 4123.01(C)(1), a claimant must sustain physical injury or occupational disease as a prerequisite to recovering workers’ compensation benefits for a mental condition. A psychiatric condition is not a workers’ compensation injury except when the condition has ‘arisen from an injury or occupational disease sustained by that claimant.’ R.C. 4123.01(C)(1).
“The plain language of R.C. 4123.01(C) and (C)(1) requires that to constitute a compensable injury for purposes of workers’ compensation, a psychiatric condition must be causally related to the claimant’s compensable physical injury. Accordingly, the statute must be applied as written.”
Although claimant’s PTSD undisputedly arose contemporaneously with claimant’s physical injuries as a result of the work related motor vehicle accident, the record contained competent, credible evidence that claimant’s physical injuries did not cause his PTSD. In other words, claimant’s PTSD did not arise from his physical injuries, rather, his PTSD arose directly from the accident itself. Therefore, in accordance with the plain language of R.C. 4123.01(C)(1), the Court held that claimant’s PTSD is not compensable under Ohio Workers’ Compensation law.