Crime scene investigator's inability to work secures temporary benefits
Case name: Colvin v. Wake County, No. COA10-792 (N.C. Ct. App. 05/03/11, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that an investigator was entitled to temporary total disability benefits and medical expenses for his back injury.
What it means: In North Carolina, an injured worker is entitled to TTD benefits if he brings medical evidence that he is physically unable to work in any employment.
Summary: A crime scene investigator for a county injured his lower back while lifting a body bag at a crime scene. The county admitted that the injury was compensable. The county authorized the investigator to see an orthopedic surgeon, who diagnosed a herniated disk. With treatment, the investigator continued to experience back and buttock pain. He quit his job because he did not believe he could safely work in his position with his back condition. The investigator began to experience increased pain and an MRI revealed that his herniated disk had progressed. He underwent surgery. After surgery, he continued to experience pain and stiffness, and the surgeon opined that he was not capable of working. The investigator sought disability benefits. The North Carolina Court of Appeals held that he was entitled to temporary total disability benefits and medical expenses.
The court said competent evidence supported a finding that the investigator's surgery was related to his work injury and that he was unable to work at any job as a result. The court noted that the surgeon said multiple times that the investigator was not capable of working.
The county argued that the investigator did not prove an ongoing disability, so he was not entitled to ongoing TTD benefits. It also contended that the investigator had to conduct a reasonable job search. The court disagreed, stating that the investigator produced medical evidence that he was physically unable to work in any employment.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 20, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications