Mental Stress Induced Mental Injury Under the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Law: Striking a Right Social Policy Balance
Kenneth K. Orie
Tulane University School of Public Health
November 21, 2011
The Louisiana State workers’ compensation law strives to balance the interests of employers and their employees for the benefit of the larger society. On the one hand, employers must be encouraged to be in business by protecting them from injured employees’ lawsuits that could bankrupt them. On the other hand, the employees must be guaranteed some measure of compensation for injury or illness they suffer in the workplace. Both outcomes are beneficial social policy goals. However, the balance is more delicate in cases of mental stress induced mental injury or illness without any physical injury (i.e. mental/mental injury) partly because it can be easily feigned. To guard against feigned mental/mental injury while supposedly allowing genuine mental/mental injury claim, the Louisiana law raises the standard for recovery in this kind of claims too high. A representative survey of these claims shows a disproportionately high rate of denial than recovery even in genuine mental/mental injury cases, raising the question of whether a right balance is being struck between the interests of employers and employees in ways supportive of the social policy goals of the workers’ compensation scheme. While the one case examined in which recovery was allowed had a third party element, it is unlikely that this could begin a trend in more recovery for genuine mental/mental injury claims. Therefore, the Louisiana legislature should revisit the standard along the lines suggested in this article to create a right balance in light of the beneficial social policy goals.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Date posted: November 22, 2011
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