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Worker causes death, wins compensation

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in Human Resources

Leonard Bailey was operating a forklift at a steel company when he accidentally ran over and killed a co-worker. As a result, Bailey was treated for severe depression and tried to get workers' compensation.

The company objected, arguing that Bailey's condition wasn't covered by workers' comp. Bailey's claim was denied at all administrative levels, so he went to court.

In most states, purely psychological conditions related to workplace injuries may be covered under the workers' comp system. But this case presented a twist because the psychiatric condition was induced by a worker causing the death of another employee.

In the end, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled for Bailey, saying a psychiatric condition arising from an injury to someone else is worthy of workers' comp benefits. (Bailey v. Republic Engineered Steels Inc., Nos. 99-2174 and 99-2296, Ohio S.Ct., 2001)

Advice: Be aware that witnesses to a major industrial accident may be covered under workers' comp even though they suffered no physical injury from the accident.

If an accident results in major injury or death, find out not only who caused the accident but also who witnessed it, and consider offering those employees professional counseling.

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