A recent en banc decision from the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board clarified what types of facts are needed to establish a “catastrophic” injury that allows an applicant to obtain psychological permanent disability emanating from physical trauma.
The WCAB’s en banc decision in Kris Wilson v. State of CA Cal Fire Fund awarded a firefighter additional psychological permanent disability (PD). The decision turned on whether the firefighter was entitled to additional PD due to the psychological component of the claim even though it occurred as a secondary result of his physical injuries.
The disputed issue of psychological PD benefits hinged on a statute amended by Senate Bill 863 which, for dates of injury on or after 1/1/13, bars psychological PD that arises as a consequence of a physical injury. In order for workers to get PD for a psychological injury that resulted from a physical injury, they need to prove that it is “catastrophic” or the result of a “violent act.”