Archive for July, 2017

Workers’ Compensation for Emotional Distress

Ohio’s workers’ compensation program will provide benefits to a person who develops a mental disorder or emotional problem because he or she suffered an injury or contracted an occupational illness on the job. Workers’ comp in Ohio, however, does not directly cover job-related stress, anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


The distinction regarding what counts as a “compensable” — eligible for benefits or compensation — emotional or mental disorder is written into the Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) and has been upheld by several Ohio Supreme Court decisions. The most-recent major statement by the highest court in Ohio comes from Armstrong v. John R. Jurgensen Co., which was decided in 2013.


Armstrong was a dump truck driver who, in 2009, suffered serious neck and back injuries when a speeding driver hit him from behind at a yield sign. The person who caused the wreck got pinned under the dump truck, and Armstrong believes he saw the person die.


After exhausting workers’ compensation benefits for his physical injuries, Armstrong worked with an Ohio personal injury lawyer to file an extension on the grounds that he suffered PTSD. That secondary claim was rejected on several appeals, and the Ohio Supreme Court also ruled against Armstrong when he asked the justices to rule on the question of whether section 4123.01(C)(1) of the O.R.C. explicitly “limits workers’ compensation coverage for psychiatric conditions to those conditions caused by the claimant’s compensable physical injury.”


The justices did uphold the rejection of the PTSD workers’ comp claim, finding that “pursuant to the plain language of [the statute], 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.’”


The justices went on to write: “The General Assembly may determine that mental conditions that develop contemporaneously with compensable physical injuries, or that arise out of the same accident or occurrence as the physical injuries, should be compensable, and amend the statutory language accordingly. Absent a mandate from the General Assembly that such conditions are compensable, however, we will not expand workers’ compensation coverage to them.”


To take that out of legalese, Armstrong’s PTSD did not qualify him for workers’ compensation because it developed at the same time as his neck and back injuries. If a crippling depression had befallen him during a protracted treatment, rehabilitation, and recovery process, he might have succeeded with his claim for extended disability benefits. Success would not be guaranteed, but the workers’ compensation people could not have declined his application out of hand.


Working with an Ohio personal injury lawyer who has experience representing injured and ill workers will help establish timelines and causation for emotional distress or mental disease. Compiling valid diagnoses, organizing psychiatric and counseling records, and putting together a narrative that clearly communicates the connection between a work-related accident or exposure and subsequent mental and behavior issues are all necessary to convince workers’ comp case reviewers.


If you believe you have a claim for worker’s compensation, consider contacting a personal injury lawyer at the Cleveland, OH, offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman. We have helped many people navigate the workers’ comp system, and we charge nothing for an initial consultation. To schedule an appointment, call (800) 678-3318 or reach out to us online.

Do I Need an Attorney for This? How to Know

You almost definitely need an attorney to provide advice and representation on the legal problems you face; it does not matter what the problem is or who you are.


We recognize that this answer comes across as glib — and possibly unhelpful. We also know it has been given in many other contexts. Still, we can say with assurance that as soon as you ask, “Do I need a lawyer?” you have your answer. Which is nearly always “yes”.


Attorneys exist because legal difficulties need resolving. If everyone understood all the financial, statutory, regulatory, and emotional aspects of every circumstance, attorneys would have no reason to practice. Since no one possesses perfect and absolute knowledge of all (or even a single) things, everyone can potentially benefit from consulting with and retaining the services of a lawyer.


Even lawyers hire other lawyers when they become parties to lawsuits, property sales, or business deals. Gaining outside perspective, tapping into a broader pool of knowledge and experience, and even just paying someone else to read all the fine print that it is so easy to talk yourself out of reading always pay off. Missed details, incomplete understanding, and poor strategy cost people in legal situations. Bringing in a lawyer to cross all the t’s, explain all the angles, and suggest the best course of action offers essentials protections and increases the likelihood of achieving the best outcomes.


Plus, and this can never be ignored, the other side has its lawyers. Viewing legal matters as an arms race does no one any favors, but making sure you enter a board room to conduct negotiations, sit down to give a deposition, or appear in court with a dedicated legal ally spares you certain defeat.


A question we can give a much more-precise answer to is whether you need a Cleveland, Ohio, attorney from Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman. That answer is “maybe,” and we welcome your further inquiries.


We represent clients in cases that involve


  • Social Security Disability Insurance
  • Supplemental Security Income through Social Security
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Personal injuries, particularly those caused by car and truck crashes, defective and dangerous products, and slips and falls (i.e., unsafe properties)
  • Medical malpractice, including nursing home neglect and abuse
  • Wrongful deaths from any cause
  • Short- and Long-term disability
  • Ohio Public Employees Retirement System disability and retirement benefits, as well benefits issues with other state-based retirement plans for school and government workers
  • Intentional torts, which happen when a person or organization purposefully inflicts harm via assault, fraud, or some other kind of likely criminal behavior


Criminal, employment, family, real estate, and business law matters will need to be taken up by other attorneys. Know, though, that legal assistance is available for whatever problem you have.


If you need help with a disability, injury, or retirement plan issue, contact the Cleveland, Ohio, offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman to let us know if we might be of service. We offer free consultations, so call us at 1-800-678-3318 or connect with us online to schedule an appointment.

Cleveland OH Workers Comp Lawyer
Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman
6100 Oak Tree Blvd., Suite 200, Cleveland Ohio 44131 USA
Tel: (216) 328-2125 Fax: (614) 221-7308 Map