Hijacking Incident Results in PTSD
United Parcel Service, Inc. v. Hannah, No. 11-1527 (W. Va. 10/25/13)
Ruling: The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals held that a driver was entitled to benefits for his post-traumatic stress disorder.
What it means: In West Virginia, a claim for post-traumatic stress disorder is compensable if the condition was manifested by demonstrable physical symptoms.
Summary: A delivery driver was on his route when he was accosted, and his truck was hijacked by a gunman. The gunman forced the driver to pull over, and he took the keys of the truck. The driver escaped and hid behind a nearby store. The gunman was fatally shot by law enforcement. After the incident, the driver saw a licensed professional counselor, who diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the hijacking. A doctor agreed with the PTSD diagnosis and noted that the driver experience sleep disturbances, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, and depression. The driver sought workers’ compensation benefits. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals held that he was entitled to benefits.
The court found that the driver’s claim was not barred because his PTSD was manifested by demonstrable physical symptoms, including sleep disturbances and jumpiness. Also, the nature of the incident was physical. The driver was physically detained, assaulted by the sound of gunfire, and stripped of his keys.