Case name: Adecco, Inc. v. Dollar, No. 107967 (Okla. Civ. App. 04/22/11).
Ruling: The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals held that a worker was entitled to permanent partial disability benefits for a psychological overlay in her work-related injury.
What it means: In Oklahoma, a chiropractor is qualified to give expert testimony regarding a worker's psychological condition.
Summary: A worker sustained a work-related back injury and was awarded benefits. She later sought to reopen her case, alleging that she suffered additional impairment to her back and psychological overlay due to depression. She said she had sleeplessness and crying spells, and was prescribed antidepressant medication. A chiropractor's report noted that the worker's depression was due to the worker's compensable back injury. The employer asserted that the chiropractor administrating a depression test was not a medical expert. The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals held that the worker sustained a change in condition for the worse, including a psychological overlay, and was entitled to PPD benefits.
The employer asserted that a chiropractor's scope of expertise was limited to the areas of practice covered by a chiropractor's license, which do not specifically include psychological evaluation or testing. The court said that a chiropractor is qualified to give expert testimony on matters covering the general field of his professional knowledge, as well as other matters. The court explained that physicians are generally presumed to be competent to testify as experts on mental conditions. The legislature indicated that a chiropractor is considered a physician in workers' compensation cases.
Here, the chiropractor was permitted to give his opinion as to psychological overlay in other workers' compensation cases. Also, his opinion was formulated in accordance with the American Medical Association guidelines and was "within a reasonable degree of medical certainty." The court accepted the chiropractor's opinion as being from a qualified expert.
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June 27, 2011
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