Florida Court of Appeals Overturns Denial of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Related to Employee’s PTSD

In CVS Caremark Corp. v. McIntosh, a Florida pharmacy worker sought workers’ compensation benefits for her purported post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) following a work-related incident. Although the worker’s employer initially authorized the employee to seek psychiatric treatment, it later challenged the worker’s request for temporary total disability and inpatient psychiatric care benefits.

At a hearing before a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”), the woman’s psychiatrist testified that she was temporarily and totally disabled because her workplace accident caused her to suffer from PTSD. Despite this, the JCC rejected the doctor’s opinion because the woman was able to work for other specific periods of time following her job-related incident. The JCC also stated the worker’s testimony concerning her inability to work was not credible and found that she was not working for reasons that were unrelated to her compensable accident. As a result, the JCC denied the worker’s temporary disability claim.

On appeal, Florida’s First District ruled that the JCC committed error when he denied the employee’s claim for temporary total disability benefits. According to the court, the worker met her burden when she submitted medical evidence indicating she was unable to work due to her PTSD. After that, the appellate court stated the burden of proof subsequently shifted to the woman’s employer, which submitted no medical evidence.

Florida’s First District next stated it did not matter that the JCC rejected the psychiatrist’s opinion regarding the worker’s disability because the employee reasonably relied on her treating physician’s instructions. Since the JCC failed to make findings that would overcome the employee’s reliance on her doctor’s opinion, the appellate court held the judge’s decision should be reversed with regard to her request for temporary total disability benefits.

After that, the Court of Appeal disagreed with the JCC’s denial of the worker’s request for inpatient psychiatric treatment because the judge ordered ongoing psychiatric care for the woman. According to the court, the JCC failed to provide a valid reason for rejecting the medical evidence provided by the worker’s psychiatrist. The court added that the JCC’s basis for rejecting such a recommendation was unclear because he apparently relied on the same testimony when he ordered the ongoing mental health care. Since it was unclear how the JCC parsed the psychiatrist’s testimony regarding this issue, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal reversed and remanded the JCC’s order with instructions to clarify his denial of the recommended inpatient psychiatric care.

If you suffered harm due to a workplace accident in South Florida, you need a caring workers’ compensation lawyer on your side. To discuss your right to recover workers’ compensation benefits with an experienced Miami personal injury lawyer today, do not hesitate to call the hardworking advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. at (305) 448-8585 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

CVS Caremark Corp. v. McIntosh, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2015

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