Third-year law student Bradley Smith has taken the top prize in the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s newest writing competition, which focuses on issues in workers’ compensation. In addition to a cash prize, the paper will be published in The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Centennial: A Narrative and Pictorial Celebration, a commemorative publication edited by Hon. David B. Torrey.

Smith’s article, titled Pennsylvania’s Mental Lapse: A History of Pennsylvania’s Treatment of Mental Disabilities Caused by Mental Stress in Workers’ Compensation, examines how Pennsylvania law has historically treated those who incur mental injuries on the job as the result of mental trauma. “Take, for example, a cashier who is robbed at gunpoint,” Smith explained. “If she experiences PTSD as a result of the attack, and misses work, she will have a higher burden of proof than a typical claimant whose injuries are physical.”

While Smith’s focus is on the evolution of the law regarding such “mental-mental” injuries, he also discusses how attorneys are most likely to succeed on behalf of workers injured in this way. “I really hope this article is helpful to lawyers with clients in this situation, and I hope it encourages more lawyers to take such cases,” said Smith. “I think the elevated burden placed on these workers is unfair and should be re-examined.”