In an appeal a worker in Tennessee was granted rights to workers’ compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder. Steven Ratliff reported witnessing the onsite deaths of two of his coworkers, but was not diagnosed with PTSD by his doctor until a couple months later. He filed a workers’ comp claim exactly one year from the diagnosis.
The company he worked for – Gerdau Ameristeel Inc. – then filed a motion to declare the claim invalid. The Tennessee statute of limitations requires a suit to be filed “within one year of the accident resulting in injury.”
The company cited that because the death of the second worker occurred in April 2008, the statute had expired. Ratliff countered, claiming the statute did not begin until the diagnosis, in June.
Although the trial court sided with the employer, a successful appeal means Ratliff will get his compensation after all. This one could have gone either way, and will certainly have ramifications for Tennessee workers’ comp policies in the future.
Though I think the greater concern is that two employees died from separate workplace accidents two months apart. Hopefully Ratliff will be the last employee to have to witness something that traumatic.
Source: Insurance Journal