Psychiatric injury is supported by substantial medical evidence and compensable as extraordinary event

This is a Board Panel decision

This is a very significant case for workers’ compensation principles.

The applicant was a tree trimmer employed less than 6 months. A coworker inadvertently put applicant’s climbing rope in to  a wood chopper. This resulted in a left leg dislocation and later surgical amputation. The defendant accepted injury to multiple body parts but not to psychiatric injury.

At trial the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) found the orthopedic compensable but did not rule on whether the applicant’s injury resulted from a “sudden extraordinary employment condition.”

Defendant petitioned for reconsideration indicating there was no psychiatric injury under Labor Code section 3208.3 (d) because the applicant had not worked 6 months. and the “sudden extraordinary exception” to this code section did not apply.

The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) reviewed Matea v WCAB and SCIF v WCAB (Garcia). They indicated the facts revolved whether the injury was “uncommon, unusual and unexpected and did not result from a routine and regular event.”

They ruled the applicant showed the manner in which his leg was amputated was from an “uncommon, unusual and unexpected event” and not from a “routine and regular employment event.”

Therefore, the psychiatric claim was compensable .


Harvey Brown
3501 Jamboree Rd. Suite 602
Newport Beach, CA 92660

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