Length of time between work incident and doctor visit undermine claim
Case name: Starbuck v. Vigo County Public Library, No. 93A02-1001-EX-67 (Ind. Ct. App. 09/28/10, unpublished).
Ruling: The Indiana Court of Appeals held that a librarian was not entitled to benefits for her injuries.
What it means: A worker may have difficulty establishing a connection between her work activities and injuries when the evidence shows a great length of time between the alleged work incident and a visit to a doctor and when the worker does not tell her doctor the injury is work-related.
Summary: A librarian performed puppet shows as a part of her duties and was required to hold puppets weighing from five to 20 pounds. She noticed a pain in her right arm and visited her physician, who diagnosed her with a bone spur in her elbow. The librarian was later diagnosed with a disc bulge in her spine and her doctor prepared a letter at the librarian's request stating that it was work-related. She also suffered a tear to her rotator cuff. The Indiana Court of Appeals held that the librarian was not entitled to compensation because she did not prove her injuries were work-related.
The court noted that the librarian did not visit a doctor until over a year after she first performed puppet shows. The librarian also told her doctor that she had pain after doing yard work.
The library argued that the letter written by the doctor was not intended to be a report on causation. The court agreed, stating that the letter was written to assist the librarian with her insurance claim "rather than to be forensic in nature." The letter did not expressly determine that her impairments were the result of her work at the library.
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December 16, 2010
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