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The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Thursday reversed a decision to award workers compensation benefits to a tractor-trailer driver who said he suffered a psychological injury during a vehicle fire.
The driver had filed a workers comp claim seeking benefits for a frostbite injury to one of his fingers as well as post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the incident in which the tractor-trailer he was driving caught fire in February 2015. He subsequently amended his petition to only seek compensation for PTSD.
A workers comp judge in 2022 held that the driver suffered work-related PTSD and awarded him benefits. The driver’s former employer, Premium Transportation Staffing Inc., appealed, arguing the fire didn’t constitute an abnormal working condition, but a workers comp board affirmed the benefits.
In reversing those decisions, the appeals court said the claimant could have anticipated a truck fire and had been trained on how to respond to such an incident. It said the “relatively minor fire” was quickly extinguished and did not constitute an “extraordinarily unusual and distressing” employment event that could serve as the basis for a PTSD claim.