In April 2008, a masked man robbed a liquor store at gunpoint, threatening the working employees and tying them to a chair. Understandably shaken, one of the employees—Gregory Kochanowicz, a 30-year veteran of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board—filed a workers’ compensation claim, saying that the incident left him with diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder.
After the claim, a judge initially awarded Kochanowicz workers’ compensation benefits, based on the fact that he had been exposed to an abnormal working condition that resulted in his psychological injury.
A workers’ compensation judge later concluded in the Commonwealth Court that because Kochanowicz had received training on workplace violence, the robbery was considered a normal condition of being employed in a liquor store. The judge determined that the robbery would have been anticipated, and that Kochanowicz should not receive benefits.
Recently, however, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania stepped in, and the Commonwealth Court reexamined the evidence. Finding that Gregory Kochanowicz had never once been robbed before the April 2008 incident in his 30 year tenure in liquor stores, it was determined that the robbery was not within what would be considered normal working conditions. Based on this information, it was determined that Kochanowicz would, indeed, receive workers’ compensation benefits for his PTSD.
This is an important win for the men and women who have suffered from PTSD following a workplace incident. Known as a very difficult condition for which to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, PTSD still remains a very common and powerful side effect of traumatic workplace accidents.
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