Conflicting testimony, surveillance video topple claim for benefits
Lestage v. Nabors Drilling Co., No. WCA 10-728 (La. Ct. App. 12/08/10).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a worker was not entitled to benefits for his alleged back injury.
What it means: In Louisiana, a worker's testimony alone may be sufficient to establish a work-related accident occurred. However, other conflicting evidence, such as testimony by coworkers and surveillance videos, can discredit the worker's testimony.
A worker on a rig alleged that drill pipe elevators pinned his knee against a chain guard and that he injured his back when he tried to push the elevators off his knee. He told different versions of the accident. He said he was pinned for a few seconds or as long as three minutes. Initially, he claimed that he felt burning in his leg from hip to toe. Later, he said he immediately went numb from the waist down. He continued to work after the alleged incident and denied back pain at his initial hospital visit. The two days after the incident, he worked 12-hour shifts, including lifting and moving 100-pound sacks of gel for up to six hours. Coworkers said the worker never injured himself, and a supervisor stated that he never reported an injury. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that the worker was not entitled to benefits because he did not prove he sustained a workplace injury.
Evidence also included a video depicting the drilling floor showing that the elevators, due to their suspended nature, swung back and forth like a pendulum, making the worker's claim of being pinned unlikely. Also, a surveillance video of the worker showed him bending, stooping, kneeling, walking, and carrying his child without any signs of discomfort or anguish. The workers' compensation judge found the worker to be an incredible witness, and the court agreed.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
February 3, 2011
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