Claimant's compensable vertigo condition causes further complications
Thomas v. United Airlines, 15 FLWCLB 225 (Fla. JCC, Orlando 2008).
Ruling: A Florida judge of compensation claims held that the claimant's bilateral labyrinthine hypersensitivity was caused by his employment as a direct and proximate result of his preexisting compensable benign positional vertigo.
What it means:
Benign positional vertigo often leads to complications such as bilateral labyrinthine hypersensitivity. In this case, because the claimant's benign positional vertigo was previously found compensable, and medical opinion connected the two conditions, the JCC found the bilateral labyrinthine hypersensitivity covered by the workers' compensation statute.
The claimant, a former airlines ramp serviceman, sustained compensable injuries, including psychiatric, right shoulder and elbow injuries while performing lifting activities at work May 7, 2000. He was paid certain medical and permanent total disability benefits. At issue in this case was whether the claimant's bilateral labyrinthine hypersensitivity condition was related to his job. Relying on the testimony of the treating doctor and the expert medical advisor, the JCC found that the claimant's BLH was caused by his preexisting compensable benign positional vertigo.
Benign positional vertigo is a condition where crystals in the inner ear are dislodged, causing the crystals to float into the semicircular canals, most commonly the posterior semicircular canal. When the crystals lodge in that area, people get vertigo as their heads move into certain positions. Because the crystals in the inner ear have been knocked out of position with the BPV, the crystals can act as irritants in the inner ear. The Epley Maneuver used to treat the BPV does not really get rid of the crystals but merely moves them, whereby they can cause later complications such as BLH. The only treatment at that point is medications in the form of vestibular suppressants, which the claimant was receiving.
The treating doctor explained that BPV often leads to BLH. Furthermore, the JCC found significant that the claimant had never been diagnosed with BLH before his industrial accident.
Based on this evidence, along with the testimony of the treating doctor and EMA, the JCC concluded that the claimant's bilateral labyrinthine hypersensitivity was caused by his employment as a direct and proximate result of his previously found compensable benign positional vertigo.
March 9, 2009
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