Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Courts / N.C. Court of Appeals / Workers’ Compensation – PTSD – Armed Robbery – Credibility – Expert Testimony

Workers’ Compensation – PTSD – Armed Robbery – Credibility – Expert Testimony

Pickett v. Advance Auto Parts (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-043-16, 21 pp.) (Douglas McCullough, J.) Appealed from the Industrial Commission. N.C. App.

Holding: The issue of credibility is one for the Industrial Commission, so the court rejects defendants’ challenge to plaintiff’s credibility and to his doctor’s and psychologist’s diagnoses, which were based on plaintiff’s statements about the armed robbery at work that left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

We affirm the Commission’s award of benefits.

Defendants also challenge the physician’s opinion as being based on temporal sequence or proximity. However, timing is not only relevant, but also a necessary consideration in diagnosing psychological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Moreover, the physician was able to rule out other potential causes of plaintiff’s symptoms.

The physician testified that plaintiff’s symptoms were likely the result of a conversion reaction – a physical response to something completely emotional. The physician’s testimony clearly linked plaintiff’s psychological and physical symptoms, or the exacerbation of those symptoms, in the months following the robbery to that event. The Commission did not err in relying on the physician’s testimony regarding causation.

Defendants challenge the Commission’s qualification of plaintiff’s psychologist as an expert witness. Defendants attempt to lessen the relevance of the psychologist’s credentials in the present case by pointing out the subject of the psychologist’s doctoral dissertation, “if there was a correlation between the race of the teacher and students’ perceptions of the classroom environment,” is of no significance in this case and by pointing out that, although the psychologist has worked in various positions, he has not worked in any position very long. Defendants do not cite any authority to support the suggestion that the subject of the psychologist’s doctoral dissertation or the length of time he worked at each position prevent him from qualifying as an expert in psychology.

The Commission did not err in relying on the opinions of plaintiff’s physician and psychologist in determining that plaintiff suffered a compensable injury.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *