Workers’ Compensation

Ca. Workers' Comp. Quarterly 2020, Vol. 33, No. 2

Psychiatric Injury As a Compensable Consequence of an Industrial Injury—There Are Some Limits

Sure Log, Esq.

El Segundo, California

Under Labor Code section 3208.3(b)(1), a psychiatric injury must be caused predominantly by actual events of employment to be compensable. The courts have long recognized that an employee’s physical injury may be considered an actual event of employment within the meaning of that section. (Lockheed Martin Corp. v. WCAB (McCullough) (2002) 96 Cal.App.4th 1237, 1249.) Although Labor Code section 4660.1(c) limits the availability of permanent disability benefits for a psychiatric injury flowing from a physical injury for injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2013, the statute does not change the analysis of causation under Labor Code section 3208.3. (See Liu v. Hawaiian Gardens Casino, 2017 Cal.Wrk.Comp. P.D. LEXIS 315.) Labor Code section 4660.1(c) doesn’t affect the availability of other benefits. Although a psychiatric injury may be a compensable consequence of a compensable physical injury, the courts also have been clear that not all consequences flowing from a physical injury are compensable. This article addresses a recent case that illustrates some of those limits.

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