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Emotional distress claims and workers' compensation

Workplace accidents that result in a person's death are tragic enough. The loved ones that a worker leaves behind after such an accident may have an even tougher time moving on. After all, the emotional connection that the family had with a worker killed on the job is difficult (if not impossible) to sever. Because of this, it is not uncommon for the loved ones of a person killed in a workplace accident to seek emotional distress damages as part of a wrongful death suit; but could these damages be sought through a workers' compensation claim?

This was the question posed to the Wyoming Supreme Court after a father witnessed his son being killed in a workplace accident. According to a recent businessinsurance.com report, both father and son were working at a construction site. The father was operating an excavation hoe while his son was working inside a trench. The son was accidentally struck in head by the bucket of the hoe, which led to his death. 

The son's estate received workers' compensation benefits, but the father sued the construction company seeking emotional distress damages. He alleged that the company negligently inflicted emotional distress upon him.

The construction company filed, and won, a motion to dismiss at the trial court level. The trial court ruled that workers' compensation was the exclusive remedy for accidents and wrongful death claims. However, the Wyoming Supreme Court disagreed, reasoning that emotional distress is an injury that is separate and distinct from physical injuries.

If you have questions about whether emotional distress is a claim that may be allowed under California's workers' compensation code, an experienced attorney can advise you. 

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  1. My injury and subsequent WC case was one of the most difficult times in my life, and I wouldn't wish this upon my worst enemy. Throughout the entire ordeal though, Mr. Kropach and Ms. Shibata stood by my side, providing me amazing support.

    - Wpark
  2. I was in a very serious accident in early 2000 and found that Attorney Kropach and his Staff especially his paralegal Jill paid close attention to my case and no matter how many questions I asked they always had time to explain in layman's language what I needed to know.

    - Janice Ann
  3. I have been lucky to have William Kropach handle two different workers' compensation cases in the last several years that exceeded all of my expectations.

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  4. I hired Mr. Kropach years ago due to the fact that he was head of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association. After the insurance company denied my claim I thought my case was over but my attorney fought the insurance company all the way to the appellate court and WON.

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  5. I hired Mr. Kropach years ago due to the fact that he was head of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association. After the insurance company denied my claim I thought my case was over but my attorney fought the insurance company all the way to the appellate court and WON.

    - Workers’ Compensation Client
  6. I have a 18 year old work-comp case. Mr. Kropach never gave up or settled for anything less. He kept fighting for my rights to win. He realized I was in the right and He never once asked me to just give up.I won my case 100 %

    - Edward
  7. I have known Bill for over 25 years. He is personable and very knowledgeable in the area of Workers Comp. My experience during this very stressful time has been excellent. His staff is courteous and efficient and always kept me up to date with my case.

    - Donna
  8. I hired Mr. Kropach for my workers compensation claim about 3 years ago. I was suffering severe pain on my elbow as a result of my job. Mr. Kropach was superb in helping me settle this case.

    - Dax
  9. Bill treated me with care, individuality, and really examined my case carefully. I was immediately impressed with his track record and his dedication to voluntary unpaid community services.

    - Brad
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