Failure to notify employer, doctors of work-related fall topples benefits
Case name: Stanford v. V.F. Jeanswear, LP, No. 2010-WC-01284-COA (Miss. Ct. App. 10/11/11).
Ruling: The Mississippi Court of Appeals held that a driver was not entitled to benefits because she did not prove she sustained a compensable work-related injury.
What it means: In Mississippi, a worker is not entitled to benefits if the employer testifies that it never received notice of an injury and the worker initially failed to inform her medical providers of her work-related injury.
Summary: A truck driver began to feel nauseous while driving, so she pulled over to rest. She attempted to exit the driver's seat to enter the sleeper compartment, but she tripped over a cooler and hit her head, knocking herself unconscious. Her husband, who was riding with her, attempted to revive her. When she came to, she declined medical treatment. She claimed that she contacted the head dispatcher and the terminal manager the next day. When she returned home, she sought treatment for her injuries, but doctor's notes did not mention her fall until two years later. She underwent surgeries and sought benefits. The Mississippi Court of Appeals held that she was not entitled to benefits.
The court noted that in a previous case it denied benefits where an employee provided late notice to a doctor and the employer denied receiving direct, timely notice of the injury. The court pointed out that in this case, the head dispatcher, the terminal manager, and a coworker denied that they were told about the driver's fall. The coworker said that she went on a cruise with the driver two months after the alleged injury, where she observed the driver go horseback riding. The coworker testified that she did not see the driver have trouble with her back or neck during the cruise. The court also emphasized that the driver's medical record did not mention a fall until two years after the alleged injury. Her earlier medical records contained no mention of a work-related injury or expressly denied that her symptoms were caused by an injury.
The court concluded that due to the inconsistencies and contradictions in the evidence it could not conclude that the driver sustained a compensable work-related injury.
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November 14, 2011
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