Case name: Gustin v. Payless Shoesource, Inc., No. 104,732 (Kan. Ct. App. 07/08/11).
Ruling: The Kansas Court of Appeals held that a worker was entitled to permanent partial disability benefits.
What it means: In Kansas, to establish task loss, a physician must opine that the injured worker lost the ability to perform a percentage of work tasks performed in the 15 years before the accident.
Summary: A worker's job involved packing and decasing boxes of shoes for a shoe store. While unloading a trailer, she fell, resulting in injuries to her back and leg. She was paid temporary total disability benefits and later returned to light-duty work. The store closed its facility, and the worker was laid off. She did not work elsewhere. A vocational rehabilitation counselor prepared a list of tasks the worker performed in the 15 years before the accident. The worker's doctor opined that as a result of her fall, she had a 53 percent task loss. The store's doctor opined that she had a 15 percent task loss. The worker sought benefits. The Kansas Court of Appeals held that she was entitled to permanent partial disability benefits.
The court noted that both doctors said it was probable or likely that working would exacerbate her symptoms. The doctor's words expressed "more than the mere possibility" of the outcome. The doctors expressed the notion that the outcome would occur more than 50 percent of the time.
The court explained that the purpose of physician-
defined job restrictions is to limit the worker's tasks to those a worker could reasonably be expected to perform on a daily basis. Measuring a worker's task loss is to arrive at the amount of compensation that takes into account the wages lost as a result of the worker's injury. The store did not hire the worker to perform one task at one time but to repeat a set of tasks over and over. Her ability to earn wages was dependent on her ability to perform the tasks repeatedly.
The store sought to exclude tasks that the worker could not perform due to the injury. The court said this would obscure the distinction between functional impairment and work disability. To establish task loss, a physician must opine that the injured worker lost the ability to perform a percentage of work tasks performed in the 15 years before the accident. Here, both doctors opined that the worker was unable to perform a percentage of her previous work tasks.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 4, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications