Carrier fails to prove back injury is recurrence rather than new injury
Case name: Allen Engineering Corp. and Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. Green, et al., No. CA08-726 (Ark. Ct. App. 05/13/09, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Arkansas Court of Appeals upheld a decision by the Workers' Compensation Commission, holding the worker suffered a new injury rather than a recurrence of a preexisting injury.
What it means: In Arkansas, an injury may be considered a recurrence of an existing injury when the later complication is a natural and probable consequence of the prior injury. It is not a new injury but merely another period of incapacitation resulting from a previous injury. In contrast, an aggravation is a new injury resulting from an independent incident and must meet the requirements for a compensable injury.
Summary: A worker, who had sustained a compensable back injury in 2000, suffered another on-the-job injury in 2006 when he fell out of an SUV onto asphalt. He alleged he sustained an injury to his back from the fall that required medical treatment and rendered him temporarily totally disabled. The carrier appealed the Workers' Compensation Commission's finding that the worker suffered an aggravation or new injury in the fall. The carrier argued the worker suffered a recurrence of the 2000 compensable injury, arguing the worker's condition and symptoms were a natural or probable result of his previous injury. The carrier argued that, since it was not the insurer at the time of the 2000 injury, it was not responsible for paying his benefits as a result of the 2006 fall. The Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that based on the testimony and medical evidence presented, the injury qualified as a new compensable injury.
In determining whether the injury was new or a result of the old injury, the court found the evidence supported a conclusion that the fall from the SUV arose out of and in the course of the worker's employment. It also found that there were objective findings of a herniated disk that were not present before the 2006 accident. Finally, the court determined that there was evidence of causation between the accident and the injury, and therefore, the worker suffered a new injury rather than a recurrence of an old injury.
July 9, 2009
Copyright 2009© LRP Publications