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Psyche Sequelae Not Considered in Analysis of Whether an Injury is "Catastrophic" For Purposes of Psyche PD as a Compensable Consequence

In a recent case, Schaan v. Jerry Thompson and Sons, the Board reiterates the Wilson analysis for whether an injury is "catastrophic" includes an analysis of the nature and severity of the physical injury, without consideration of psychiatric sequelae.  In order to establish a catastrophic injury and entitlement to PD for psyche as a compensable consequence, the Board will look at the following factors:

1) Intensity and seriousness of medical treatment required by injury;

2) the ultimate outcome of employee’s physical injury when employee is permanent and stationary; 

3) impact of injury on activities of daily living (ADLs); 

4) whether injury is analogous to one of injuries specified in Labor Code § 4660.1(c)(2)(B) (loss of limb, paralysis, severe burn, or severe head injury); 

5) if the physical injury is incurable and progressive.

Here, the WCAB found that applicant's seven shoulder surgeries (including replacement on both sides) were not sufficiently “serious and life-threatening” medical treatment, his ADLs were not sufficiently impacted, and his injury was not analogous to those outlined in statute nor was it progressive or incurable.  The psyche symptoms, which were found by the QME to be a compensable consequence of the physical injury, were not considered in the above.

Note: This case has not been designated a significant panel decision and cannot be cited.  

WCAB, denying reconsideration, affirmed WCJ’s finding that applicant did not suffer “catastrophic” injury pursuant to Labor Code § 4660.1(c)(2)(B) and Wilson v. State of CA Cal Fire (2019) 84 Cal. Comp. Cases 393 (Appeals Board en banc opinion), and was, therefore, not entitled to increased permanent disability rating for psychiatric condition applicant incurred as compensable consequence of orthopedic injuries he sustained while employed as painter through 1/8/2015, when WCAB reasoned that under Wilson, whether injury is “catastrophic” depends on nature and severity of physical injury, without consideration of psychiatric sequelae,


workerscompensation, californialaw, riskmanagement, psyche claims