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Court Orders Workers Comp for PA Trooper Who Witnessed Crash


On November 29, 2006, Pennsylvania State Trooper Philip Payes was on his way to the state police barracks in Newport. He was driving his cruiser on Interstate 81, when a woman dressed in black ran in front of his vehicle. The officer was unable to stop the crash. The woman was later identified as 28-year-old Robin Hull, a mentally ill Hampden Township resident who had been reported missing by her family.

Payes exited his vehicle and tried to revive the woman by giving her CPR as she bled from her mouth. At the same time, he tried to keep traffic away from the site of the crash. But, despite his efforts, Hull died at the scene.

Payes was off work for more than a month after the crash. He returned to duty in early 2007, but found that severe anxiety and stress were impairing his ability to function as a police officer. Hull applied for workers compensation disability benefits. His claim was rejected.

The Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Appeal Board upheld the rejection on the basis that the trauma Payne experienced was not outside the normal scope of work for a 12-year-veteran of the police force. A Commonwealth Court agreed.  Police officers should be able to deal with dangerous situations, especially car crashes.

Payes kept fighting. His case went before the Pennsylvania on October 30, 2013. The Supreme Court overruled the previous decisions and ordered that Payes be paid workers’ compensation disability. The court agreed that a police officer’s job is dangerous, but Payes’ experience was unique because of its “highly unusual and singular nature” and did not fit into routine police work. Payes could not have prepared for the experience.

It is not unusual for a worker to suffer emotional injuries after a traumatic event in the workplace. If your psychological injury claim is rejected, don’t give up. The insurance companies don’t want to pay your claim, but you have a right to receive benefits for your workplace injury. Contact the attorneys at Mednick, Mezyk & Kredo about about filing an appeal. We’ll schedule a free consultation to discuss your options.

Category: Workers’ Compensation

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