Russell Madson worked as a truck driver for Michael J. Cavaletto Ranches when he was involved in a motor vehicle accident on May 17, 2013. He sustained an accepted industrial injury to his head, neck, shoulders, and nervous system. However, he also alleged injury to psyche.
Madson is claustrophobic. He was pinned and crushed in the cab upside down for approximately 35 to 40 minutes. (Ibid.) He could only take shallow breaths. He was afraid that the truck would catch fire because the engine was still running and the truck had two full tanks of fuel. (Ibid.) He had to be freed from the wreckage using the ”.jaws of life.” He described the event as “horrific.”
A QME performed an evaluation and assigned him a GAF score of 58 and determined that 95% of his psychological impairment was caused by “the motor vehicle accident of May 17, 2013” and assigned 5% to outside stressors. This was equivalent to 35% for the psychiatric component after apportionment and adjustments in the rating string.
His injury occurred in 2013, which is subject to section 4660.l(c) and limits the compensability of permanent disability resulting from certain physical injuries with exceptions. Once of which is being a victim of a “violent act.”
The WCJ did not award applicant psychiatric disability, opining on the definition of “violent act” as follows: “In the undersigned’s opinion as unfortunate as the applicant’s vehicle accident was, the undersigned believes that the better and more reasonable interpretation of the statute is that there has to be at least some volitional act set in force by a human being with at least if not intent something more than mere negligence to bring the violent act exception into play. There is no evidence of that and accordingly, applicant is not entitled to receive permanent disability indemnity for his psychiatric claim.”
The sole issue on reconsideration is whether applicant’s psychiatric pennanent disability is ratable pursuant to section 4660.l(c).3 Applicant alleges that the motor vehicle accident constituted a “violent act” and thus an exception to the statute. Applicant further alleges that his injury does not arise out of the physical injury, but instead is directly caused by the accident itself and thus, section 4660. I is not applicable in this case. Applicant.
The WCAB rescinded the October 13, 2016 F&A and substitute a new Findings and Award, which includes an award of psychiatric impairment, which arose directly from the events of employment in the panel decision of Madson v Michael J. Cavaletto.
“Section 4660.1( c ) does not preclude increases in impairment ratings when the psyche injury arises directly from the events of employment. (See City of Los Angeles v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd.(Montenegro) (2016), 81 Cal.Comp.Cases 611 (writ den.) [holding that impairment caused by sexual dysfunction arising directly from the industrial injury is not precluded under section 4660.l(c)].)”
“The QME clearly opined that the traumatic stress that resulted in applicant’s psychiatric disorder was the industrial accident itself and not the compensable physical injury. Thus, the preclusion of psychiatric impairment under section 4660.l(c) does not apply to applicant’s injury.”