Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 400 19
21/03/2019
J. Dimovski
  • Second Injury and Enhancement Fund {SIEF} (preexisting condition) (predisposition)

The worker was a bus driver who was threatened by a passenger. The Board granted the worker entitlement for post-traumatic stress disability. The employer appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying the employer SIEF relief.

The worker did not have a pre-accident disability that produced periods of disability in the past and disrupted employment. She did not have an underlying asymptomatic pre-existing condition that became manifest after the accident and prolonged recovery or enhanced the compensable injury. However, in the case of psychological conditions, Board policy allows for prior psychic trauma resulting from life experience as evidence of vulnerability justifying SIEF relief even in the absence of pre-existing psychological impairment.
A Tribunal medical discussion paper on Post-Traumatic Stress disorder lists female gender, past psychiatric history, reported childhood abuse and family psychiatric history as consistent pre-trauma factors. In this case, there was evidence or neuroticism and a childhood history of sexual abuse. These were factors that made the worker more vulnerable or susceptible to developing PTSD. This prior psychic trauma resulting from life experience was evidence of a vulnerability sufficient to justify SIEF relief under the Board policy.
The accident was of moderate severity. The pre-existing condition was of minor medical significance. The employer was entitled to 25% SIEF relief. The appeal was allowed in part.