Wrist injury leads to staph infection; remand to determine proper notice
Case name: W.A. Kendall & Co., Inc. v. Madison, No. 2080806 (Ala. Civ. App. 07/23/10).
Ruling: The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that evidence showed that a bucket operator's staph infection and resulting complications was caused by a wrist injury and not boils under his arm. The court remanded the case for a determination of whether the operator provided the employer with proper notice of the wrist injury.
What it means: To establish medical causation in cases involving an accident, the worker must show that the accident caused or was a contributing cause of the injury.
A bucket operator and tree climber was required to clear trees and brush from job sites. He testified that it was common for him to get scratches and scrapes on his arms while working. He became ill and noticed two boils under his left arm while cleaning up fallen trees. He also had a persistent wound on his wrist. He was diagnosed with a staph infection in his bloodstream.
The operator alleged that he contracted the staph infection as a result of his employment and that the infection caused problems with his heart, kidneys and esophagus. The employer argued that the operator's staph infection was not caused by his boils but by his wrist wound. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals found that there was no substantial evidence supporting a finding that the boils medically caused the staph infection and resulting complications.
A staph infection is typically caused by staph bacteria entering the body through a break in the skin. Two doctors opined that the operator's wrist wound was the likely source of the infection. The court stated that overwhelming evidence indicated that the wrist wound caused or contributed to the staph infection.
The employer argued that the operator did not provide it with proper notice of his wrist injury. The court remanded the case for a finding of whether the operator provided notice.
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October 21, 2010
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