Richard v. Vermilion Hospital, No. 10-385 (La. Ct. App. 06/09/10).
The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that the employee's condition that required 24-hour care resulted from a work-related accident and not from Alzheimer's disease.
What it means:
Employees have the burden of showing their current condition was caused by the work-related injury, especially when there is conflicting medical testimony.
Summary: A hospital employee fell from a large metal trash container at work and sustained a traumatic brain injury. The employer paid workers' compensation benefits. After a few years, the employee's medical condition deteriorated to the degree that a doctor recommended he have 24-hour care in his home. The employee filed a claim for compensation. The parties disputed whether the employee's medical condition was caused by the work injury. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that the employee's current condition was caused by the work-related injury and the 24-hour care was reasonable and medically necessary.
The hospital argued that the employee's condition was a result of the natural progression of Alzheimer's disease. Although there were conflicting medical opinions, the court decided that the evidence established a "reasonable possibility of causal connection" between the employee's current state and his work-related traumatic brain injury.
The hospital also argued that the employee's cognitive deficiencies started before his work accident. A supervisor testified that the employee became increasingly forgetful in the year before the injury, but he was a good employee and the forgetfulness did not affect his work. The court stated that if an employee was in good health before the accident, the disability is presumed to have resulted from the accident if the disabling condition began at the time of the accident. The court noted that the employee in this case was in "good health" before the work-related accident.
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August 30, 2010
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