Perez v. Clark d/b/a Young Buck Construction, No. COA10-49 (N.C. Ct. App. 11/02/10).
Ruling: The North Carolina Court of Appeals sent a case back to the Industrial Commission for a determination of whether a construction worker sustained a back injury when he was impaled by a two-by-four.
What it means:
In North Carolina, where a worker's injury is compensable, there is a presumption that additional medical treatment is directly related to the compensable injury.
Summary: A construction worker fell while working at a construction site, impaling himself on a two-by-four. The two-by-four crossed his rectum and punctured his colon, requiring extensive medical treatment. Two years after the accident, the worker sought treatment for back pain. The Industrial Commission denied compensation for the back injury. The North Carolina Court of Appeals sent the case back to the commission for an express determination of whether the worker sustained an injury to his back as a result of the injury by the two-by-four. Although the commission found that the two-by-four did not affect the worker's spine, the court stated that the commission only addressed the relationship between the worker's back condition and the accident which was a separate issue.
The worker argued that his back condition was causally related to his accident. The court disagreed, noting that the commission did not rely on the opinion of a doctor who was unsure whether the workplace injury was the cause of his back injury. The court also pointed out that the worker gave inconsistent reports of his back pain.
The worker contended that he was entitled to lifetime benefits. A doctor testified that the worker had one bowel obstruction that made him more likely to have another and that he might need further treatment. The court concluded that the worker did not show he had a substantial risk of needing further treatment. However, the court instructed the commission to reconsider awarding lifetime benefits if it found that the worker sustained an injury to his back as a result of the workplace accident.
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January 6, 2011
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