Court indicates Psychiatric Exclusion Unconstitutional

Court indicates Psychiatric Exclusion Unconstitutional

Posted: November, 1999

Bailey v.Republic Engineered Steels, Inc. (11/1/99), Stark Co. App. No. 1999CA-00084.

Note: The Ohio Supreme Court accepted an appeal from this decision and ruled that the injured worker could receive workers’ compensation, but did not find the psychiatric exclusion unconstitutional.

This case involves a psychiatric-only claim. [A claim involving a psychiatric problem without a physical injury.] The injured worker suffered the psychiatric injury as a result of accidently running over a co-worker with a tow motor.

The injured worker’s claim had been disallowed because of language in R.C. 4123.01(C) which states:

“Injury” does not include:

(1) Psychiatric conditions except where the conditions have arisen from an injury or occupational disease;

The Court of Appeals found that this exclusion of psychiatric-only claims violated Equal Protection. The Court also indicated (at page 8 of its decision) that

We find the denial of compensation of employees who suffer psychiatric conditions which do not arise from a compensable injury to or occupational disease suffered by that employee is inherently unfair and contrary to the purposes of compensating workers as set forth in Section 35, Article II of the Ohio Constitution.

The Court then determined to interpret the statute in a different manner than other courts, to provide coverage to the injured worker. The Court indicated that R.C. 4123.01(C)(1) refers to a psychiatric condition which arose from “an injury.” The Court found that “an injury” existed in the present case because of the injury to the worker run over by the tow motor. Therefore, the Court found the claim compensable under the Ohio workers’ compensation system.

Information courtesy of the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin. Subscribe to the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin to keep informed about the Ohio workers’ compensation system.