Different diagnoses, medications, surgical recommendations justify benefits
Case name: Hyatt Regency Crystal City v. Spencer, No. 1007-10-4 (Va. Ct. App. 01/25/11).
The Virginia Court of Appeals found that a cook's right shoulder injury was not related to a preexisting condition so it awarded him benefits.
What it means: In Virginia, a worker's different diagnoses and treatments before and after a workplace accident can help show that the injury was caused by a work-related incident and not by his preexisting condition.
Summary: A cook for a hotel slipped on a wet floor in the restroom at his workplace and fell, hitting his right shoulder against a sink. Before the fall, he sought medical treatment for right shoulder pain. He required further treatment after the fall and sought benefits. The hotel argued that there was no causal connection between the cook's fall at work and his shoulder injury and that his injury was a preexisting condition. The Virginia Court of Appeals disagreed and awarded benefits to the cook.
The court said the cook had different diagnoses and treatments before and after the fall. The court noted that the cook was undergoing treatment for tendonitis before the fall and was diagnosed with a right shoulder strain, contusion, and sprain after the fall. The cook received injections both before and after the fall, but they consisted of different drugs. Additionally, the surgical recommendations before and after the fall differed.
The hotel also argued that the cook failed to disclose his prior shoulder injury to two doctors, so their opinions should not have been relied on. The court disagreed. One doctor noted that the cook's past medical history was "noncontributory," and the second noted that it was "negative." The court said these terms did not necessarily establish that the cook did not inform the doctors of his previous shoulder problems. Rather, the terms could have been interpreted to indicate a lack of foundation for alternative causation.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
March 21, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications