SW Legal studies in Business

Ordinary Job Stress May Cause Mental Injury But Does Not Allow Workers' Compensation
Description Appeals court upheld the determination of the Workers' Compensation Commission that a worker showed evidence of mental injury from stress on the job, but since the stress on the job was not out of the ordinary he was not eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
Topic Employment Law
Key Words Workers' Compensation; Stress
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Smith worked as a civilian in the evidence division of the Jackson, Mississippi police department. After he had been there for five years, he experienced chest pains. His doctor said that he had severe anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and adjustment disorder. Smith filed for workers' compensation benefits. His doctor stated that Smith suffered from severe stress from his job. The administrative law judge who heard the case ruled that Smith did suffer from stress at the workplace, but that he did not prove that the stress at work exceeded the usual incidence of stress on the job, and so denied benefits. Smith appealed to the Workers' Compensation Commission, which agreed that he was not due benefits. Smith appealed to state trial court, which upheld the lower decisions. Smith appealed to the court of appeals.
Decision

Affirmed. "In order for a person to be able to claim workers' compensation benefits, he must show that the injury from which he suffers was accidental and arose out of and in the scope of his employment." In cases of mental injury, "the claimant must show that the injury was caused by something outside of the ordinary incidents of employment by clear and convincing evidence." Smith failed to prove that his mental injury was caused by some unusual event. The stress he faced on the job appears to be normal, which is not sufficient to allow compensation.

Citation Smith v. City of Jackson, 792 So.2d 335 (Ct. App., Miss., 2001)

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