Nurse is Awarded Workers' Comp Benefits for Post-Traumatic Stress

This an interesting workers’ compensation case related to post-traumatic stress disorder and depression related to an occupational event.

The Nebraska Supreme Court recently upheld a workers’ compensation monetary award. The court ruled that Kearney Hospital had to pay the salary of a former nurse.

The nurse testified she was unable to work as a nurse because of psychological injuries she received from three assaults at the hands of patients while she was on the job.

The Good Samaritan Hospital was ordered to pay the former nurse $578 a week for nearly three years for her temporary disability. Also, the hospital is required to then pay the $644 a week to the nurse for as long as she remains permanently disabled. Additionally, the hospital was ordered to pay her medical bills related to her injury.

At trial, the nurse provided testimony that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression as a result of three assaults that occurred in 2008. During that time frame, she worked as a nurse in the hospital’s mental health unit department. The first assault happened in April 2008, when a patient whipped her with an appliance cord and punched her in the jaw. After the first attack, the nurse reported being kicked and bitten by a patient. The third incident the nurse described related to being grabbed by a male patient who made “extremely aggressive” sexual comments to her.

In the hospital’s brief to the appellate court, the hospital argued, among other things, that a psychiatric expert’s testimony saying the assaults caused the nurse’s psychological disability should not have been allowed. The hospital’s expert argued that past experiences of the nurse, including a prior sexual assault, may have been the source of her trauma.

The Nebraska Supreme Court was not persuaded by the hospitals argument. The court stated in it’s opinion, that “there is no indication that the nurse experienced symptoms of PTSD, major depressive disorder, or any other significant psychiatric problems in the 15 years prior to the initial assault in April 2008,”

Further, the court concluded, “she required extensive treatment following the three incidents, including electroconvulsive therapy, which a psychiatrist stated is ‘a treatment option of last resort for major depressive disorders.’ We find sufficient evidence to support the court’s determination that the woman’s injuries arose as a result of her work-related accident.” The court did not find any evidence that a prior incident may have caused her injury or led to her inability to work.

The injured worker provided direct evidence that her mental health diagnosis was directly related to her on the job injury. The court provided an excellent analysis of the reasoning for awarding the nurse permanent total disability benefits.

If you have been injured on the job and cannot work, please contact my office to discuss your potential workers’ compensation claim. My office can discuss the process of filing a claim and offering your advice on how to proceed. I can help you get the relief you are entitled to. Call Joseph Ingram with INGRAM LAW LLC at (205) 236-3997.. Get Relief – Get Results.

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