Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 502 21
05/10/2021
K. Jepson
  • Board Directives and Guidelines (psychotraumatic disability)
  • Jurisdiction, Tribunal (final decision of Board)
  • Psychotraumatic disability

The worker, a transport truck driver, was struck in the face by a device used to tighten the chains holding the transported goods in place. He was granted entitlement for a laceration to his nose, contusions to his nose and cheek, and a concussion, and was subsequently granted entitlement to psychotraumatic disability. In June 2019, the Board determined that the worker had no further entitlement for organic or non-organic impairments, denied entitlement for a neck injury, and terminated LOE benefits after September 2019. The worker appealed.

The appeal was allowed in part.
A preliminary issue arose regarding the Tribunal's jurisdiction to determine ongoing entitlement for psychotraumatic disability. The ARO had explicitly declined jurisdiction on that issue on the grounds that the decision letter under appeal was a denial of LOE benefits. However, that letter stated that the worker was not entitled to ongoing LOE benefits because he had recovered from his organic and non-organic conditions, and the worker had clearly objected to the determination that the worker had no permanent impairment or ongoing entitlement. Therefore, the issue of ongoing entitlement was before the ARO together with the interrelated issue of entitlement to ongoing LOE benefits. The ARO's failure to determine ongoing psychotraumatic disability amounted to a denial of the relief sought and represented a final decision of the Board on that issue.
The worker had ongoing entitlement for psychotraumatic disability. The Board had denied ongoing entitlement because the psychotraumatic disability was secondary to his organic impairments, which had resolved. However, there was nothing in Board policy that a psychological condition that is a reaction to an injury will automatically cease once the original organic injury has resolved. The question of whether a secondary psychological condition resolves must be determined by looking at the medical evidence related to that condition. In this case, the medical evidence showed that the worker's psychological condition that arose subsequent to the accident had not resolved.
Given that the worker had ongoing entitlement for psychotraumatic disability, he also had entitlement to LOE benefits after September 2019.
The worker did not have entitlement for aggravation of his pre-existing neck condition. The medical reporting following the accident failed to show any evidence of a neck injury.