Vocational reports bulk up laborer's entitlement to TTD benefits
Bode v. Connecticut Mason Contractors, The Learning Corridor, et al., No. AC 32086 (Conn. App. Ct. 08/16/11).
Ruling: The Connecticut Appellate Court held that a laborer showed that he was temporary totally disabled.
What it means: In Connecticut, a worker's refusal to undergo a second surgery after an unsuccessful first surgery should not be considered in determining his entitlement to TTD benefits.
Summary: A laborer for a contractor sustained injuries when he fell 30 feet from scaffolding. He was paid temporary total disability benefits and permanent partial disability benefits. The laborer sought additional temporary total disability benefits. The laborer claimed that he suffered constant pain, was unable to work, and experienced symptoms of depression. He was more than 60 years old and was not fluent in English. During the time that he claimed temporary total disability, he underwent shoulder surgery. The Connecticut Appellate Court held that the laborer was entitled to temporary total disability benefits.
The court mentioned that the laborer did not introduce any medical reports in which a physician opined that he was totally disabled. The court said that the medical evidence showed that he had some work capacity although it was limited. One vocational report stated that he was "presently employable," but it did not mention the laborer's employability in the future. Two other reports completed later stated that he was unemployable. The court gave more weight to the two reports completed later, stating that they were closer to the hearing dates. The court mentioned that there was no evidence that he was employable. Job search forms showed the laborer's failed attempts to secure employment. The court said that at the very least he was disabled on the day of his shoulder surgery.
The court concluded that the laborer's refusal to undergo shoulder replacement surgery should not have been considered in determining whether he could receive TTD benefits. A rejection of medical care can only be considered in suspending benefits.
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October 6, 2011
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