Dancing at Christmas party casts doubt on disabling knee injury
Jones v. Giant Food Stores, 24 PAWCLR 47 (WCAB 03/11/09).
The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Appeals Board affirmed a workers' compensation judge's denial of the claimant's petition.
What it means:
A claimant bears the burden of proving she suffered a disabling work injury. If the causal connection between the work and injury or work injury and disability is not obvious, the relationship must be established with unequivocal medical testimony.
The claimant filed a claim petition alleging she sustained a "right knee sprain - tear of ligaments" while pushing a dolly out of the meat room of the employer's store. She continued working after the alleged accident but went to the emergency room two days later where she got crutches, a knee brace, and pain medication. That night she went to the company Christmas party, danced, and walked up and down stairs to smoke without her knee brace or crutches. The claimant's treating physician opined that her knee problems were caused by the work incident, but she never told the physician that she went to the party. The employer's expert opined the claimant did not sustain a disabling work injury.
The WCJ rejected the claimant's testimony in its entirety, noting her numerous inconsistencies. The WCJ also rejected the treating physician's testimony in favor of the employer's expert's opinion. The WCAB affirmed, finding that the WCJ made a reasoned selection in deciding whether to reject or accept each medical opinion.
May 11, 2009
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