Without proof of unusual exertion, claimant can't tie injury to workplace
Case name: Leavitt v. Labor Commission, et al., No. 20070646-CA (Utah Ct. App. 10/02/08, unpublished).
What it means: In Utah, when a claimant suffers from a preexisting condition that contributes to her injury or disability, she is entitled to workers' compensation benefits only if she demonstrates that the workplace exertion that precipitated her claim was unusual or extraordinary when compared to everyday nonemployment life.
The commission denied the claimant's request for workers' compensation benefits on two grounds -- that she failed to demonstrate that the exertion she experienced at work was unusual or extraordinary, and that she did not provide proper notice to the employer of an earlier injury. The claimant acknowledged that she had a preexisting low back condition as a result of a 1991 automobile accident. As a result, under Utah case law, she was required to demonstrate that the workplace exertion that precipitated her claim for benefits "was unusual or extraordinary when compared to everyday nonemployment life."
The Court of Appeals noted that the claimant's exertion at work consisted of lifting items that weighed between 21 and 39 pounds. It concluded that such exertion was not unusual or extraordinary because "people, in their nonemployment life, routinely lift items of similar weight."
The court also agreed with the commission that the claim for an earlier injury was barred because the claimant did not notify her employer of it until "well after the expiration of the 180 days." Under Utah law, an employee is barred from receiving benefits if she fails to notify the employer of the claimed injury within 180 days of its occurrence.
November 4, 2008
Copyright 2008© LRP Publications