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Friday, October 9, 2009

Bus Driver Assaulted by Gun Denied Benefits

A Pennsylvania Appeals Board has ruled that a bus driver who was assaulted by a passenger with  gun did not suffer a compensable accident. The driver alleged that he suffered several medical conditions including:  post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety depressive disorder and insomnia.

The employer asserted that assaults could be anticipated and were normal  working condition. " SEPTA's workers' compensation coordinator Michael Selvato testified about the records of assaults on operators in an effort to show that the incident was not abnormal. He explained that between June 1 and November 1, 2005 there were 292 passenger disturbances on SEPTA busses and 11 assaults on operators; between November 1, 2005 and June 1, 2006 there were 738 disturbances and 33 assaults; and between June 1, 2006 and June 25, 2007 there were 62 assaults on bus drivers. Selvato noted that there had been two bus drivers threatened with a gun from the beginning of 2007 until the time of the hearing on August 23, 2007. During his time as a trolley driver for SEPTA, Selvato had not been accosted with a gun, but he had been assaulted and threatened with a knife."

In ruling against the worker, the Appeals Board concluded that the working conditions were normal for the job and that the injured worker had not sustained the burden of proof to demonstrate that his "his injury was not a subjective reaction to normal work conditions."

McLaurin v. W.C.A.B. (SEPTA) , 2009 WL 2612578, Pa. Comwlth. 2009)

1 comment:

Alice Adams, RN, LNC said...

Well that's an interesting article. Here in Georgia, the claim would have been denied on the lack of physical injury. "Medical" is not the same as "physical", and the complaints were of a subjective nature, none of which indicated PTSD. Nonetheless, had the driver sustained any injury, even a small cut, his injury would have been accepted and he may have been successful in adding the psych component. But controverting on the basis of this event being "normal working conditions" is a new one for me. If that's normal working conditions, the employer is not doing an adequate job of protecting employees. Can you say cage?