Housekeeper cannot collect benefits for alleged pulmonary problems
Juste v. Walt Disney World, 17 FLWCLB 151 (Fla. JCC, Orlando 2010).
Ruling: A Florida judge of compensation claims found that a housekeeper's pulmonary problems, allegedly caused by work-related laryngeal trauma, were not compensable.
What it means: In Florida, where the testifying medical experts are unable to find objective evidence of physical or structural abnormalities that would explain the claimant's subjective complaints of shortness of breath and wheezing, the claimant has not established a compensable pulmonary condition arising out of a throat injury.
Summary: A housekeeper sustained compensable injuries when she was assaulted by a coworker. The employer/carrier accepted compensability of injuries to the claimant's head, neck and back and subsequent psychiatric injuries. The housekeeper sought a finding of compensability for a pulmonary condition, authorization of a pulmonologist, and temporary partial disability benefits. The JCC denied these claims because the housekeeper failed to present sufficient evidence that would permit a finding in her favor.
A pulmonary physician testified that although there was documented laryngeal trauma, he found no definite objective findings of any kind of physical or structural abnormalities that would explain the claimant's subjective complaints of shortness of breath and wheezing. Although the pulmonary physician did not see the claimant until a year and a half after the assault, he noted that she was seen by an otolaryngologist within a month of the date of accident. The otolaryngologist did not see a physical deformity or problem with the claimant's breathing apparatus.
The doctor testified that the physical examination he performed was "actually relatively unremarkable" and he did not observe bruising or physical damage to the claimant's throat. The doctor noted that if there had been damage related to the larynx injury, he would have expected objective evidence to be apparent during his examination.
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January 3, 2011
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