Corporate Services, Inc.
208 Kishwaukee St. · Rockford, IL 61104
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Stuck in Elevator: Does Employee Get Benefits Payout?

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If you got stuck in an elevator at work, would you expect to receive workers' compensation or other benefits?

A Virginia employee who found herself in that situation thought she should get workers' compensation benefits, but the state's workers' compensation commission saw things differently and denied her request.

The unfortunate employee, who worked for a health insurance company, was trapped in the elevator for about 30 minutes.

Elevator Gets Stuck

She said that when she stepped into the elevator, the door closed but the elevator did not move. She added that neither the elevator's panic button nor its phone was working. After she finally got out, she said she "wanted to get outside and get air."

She explained that although she did not sustain any physical injuries while she was stuck, the incident led to insomnia and headaches.

But a deputy commissioner denied her request for workers' compensation benefits. The deputy commissioner said, "The medical evidence in the file does not specifically relate the claimant's anxiety to this event," adding that "she did not suffer a 'sudden shock or fright' that arose out of and in the course of her employment and she did not otherwise suffer any physical injury to which the psychological injury is causally related."

The Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission later upheld the determination that workers' compensation benefits should not be awarded.

Elevator Issues: Not the First Time

Oddly enough, it was not the first time that the commission considered a benefits claim that was filed by an employee who got stuck in an elevator.

In a decision issued in 1999, the commission reviewed the claim of an employee who said she was stuck in a work elevator for about two hours.

"I felt like my flesh was crawling," the claimant in that case said. "I just felt like I was losing control of my feelings of everything. I just felt loss, numb. I felt sick to my stomach. I just felt scared." She was later diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder.

In that case, a deputy commissioner initially awarded temporary total disability benefits and medical benefits.

But the commission reversed on appeal. It explained that benefits may be awarded for psychological injuries that result from a sudden shock or fright (pdf).

It said that the event of being stuck in the elevator could not be properly characterized as unexpected or shocking. Therefore, it reversed the decision to grant the employee benefits.

Want to know more? Read the full article by at HR Morning

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