MENTAL INJURIES

Auto accidents, work injuries and other accident injuries can have a lasting impact on injury victims. Mental injuries that may result from an accident include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic attacks
  • Aggravation of pre-existing mental health impairments

If you or a loved one has suffered a psychological injury resulting from an accident, contact the law firm of Ryan Montgomery, Attorney at Law, LLC, in Greenville, South Carolina. Attorney Ryan Montgomery represents clients throughout Upstate South Carolina in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. He has experience representing clients who have sustained mental injuries resulting from auto accidents, work accidents, workplace harassment and other causes.

Who Can Obtain Mental Injury Benefits In South Carolina?

Brandon Bentley, only 34 years old, is a former Spartanburg County, S.C., deputy sheriff who is unable to work because he suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Bentley’s depression and PTSD were undisputedly caused by his 2009 killing in self-defense of a man trying to assault the officer with an umbrella and threatening to kill Bentley with his own police gun.

Bentley’s illness has taken a severe toll on him. According to The State, he dropped 70 pounds, got rid of his own firearms, feels unsafe at home and worries that the man he killed could somehow still come after him. His marriage is also on the rocks since the incident.

Despite the clear connection between Bentley’s PTSD and his employment duties, he was denied workers’ compensation because of South Carolina state law stating that for a purely mental work injury to be compensable, it must have arisen from an “extraordinary and unusual” working condition.

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GreenVille - (864) 373-7333

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Is killing extraordinary and unusual in the line of police duty?

The state workers’ compensation agency held that killing another person in the line of duty is not extraordinary or unusual for a working cop, and this holding was affirmed all the way up to the Supreme Court of South Carolina. While this seems hard to swallow, the court points out that law enforcement officers are trained for just these dangerous situations and know it could be part of their duties to have to kill, so that for those in their profession, taking the life of another person is not extraordinary or unusual.

Supreme Court’s advice

In the July 2012 Bentley v Spartanburg County opinion, however, the divided Supreme Court unabashedly urges the South Carolina General Assembly to change this hard-to-meet legal standard for mental-only injury cases. The court points out that advances in medical science allow mental injuries to be better proven, weakening traditional concerns that such claims are more likely to be falsified.

Legislative reaction

In response, in December 2012, legislators introduced a House bill that proposed eliminating the requirement that for a purely mental work-related injury to be covered by workers’ comp, it would have to be caused by an extraordinary and unusual employment condition.

Committee amendment

Interestingly, in February 2013, the House Committee on Judiciary narrowed the scope of the proposed bill by amendment that would only waive the extraordinary and unusual condition requirement for mental-only work injury coverage for certain public safety employees:

  • Fire fighters
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Emergency medical technicians
  • Correctional officers

The committee recommends that the bill pass in its amended form. Many interested factions in the state will continue to watch the bill to see what happens on the House floor and whether it will be considered by the South Carolina Senate. According to The State, local governments are concerned that broadening workers’ compensation coverage for public safety workers would be expensive at a time of fiscal scarcity, but the measure is supported by state law enforcement.

Legal counsel recommended for workers’ comp claimants

Anyone with a work-related injury, whether physical, mental or a combination, should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for advice and representation. For South Carolina workers with mental injuries, it may be particularly crucial to consult with a knowledgeable lawyer since the law may be changing, because the current law is complex and because evidentiary issues can be difficult when an injury is not purely physical.

Ryan Montgomery brings to each case more than a decade of legal experience. He is committed to helping accident victims and takes time to handle each case with meticulous care. He understands that his clients rely on him for quality legal representation and works diligently to seek the full compensation his clients are entitled to receive.

Contact A Mental Injury Attorney

To schedule your free consultation with Greenville personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyer Ryan Montgomery, call (864) 301-6213.

Schedule a Free Review

GreenVille - (864) 373-7333

Columbia - (803) 999-1111

Phone