Case name: McGahuey v. Whitestone Logging, Inc., No. S-13742, No. 6610 (Alaska 10/21/11).
The Alaska Supreme Court held that a worker was not entitled to compensation for his hip, back, and ear injuries.
What it means: In Alaska, a preexisting back condition and a lack of contemporaneous complaints of back pain or evidence of a home treatment regimen is adequate evidence to support a conclusion that a worker's pain was not caused by a work-related incident.
Summary: A worker for a logging company claimed that he was injured in a fight with coworkers. He said a coworker attacked him and to escape he had to jump out a window that was 14 feet off the ground. He said he was limping visibly after the fight and that he reported the injury to supervisors. One year after the fight, the worker submitted a report of injury form. The worker sought temporary total disability benefits, medical costs, and transportation costs. The Alaska Supreme Court held that he was not entitled to compensation for his injuries.
The court noted that a supervisor investigated the fight and said it did not seem severe.
The company claimed that it had not received timely notice of the injury, the worker was intoxicated at the time of the injury, and the fight did not occur in the course and scope of employment.
The court said that the company rebutted the presumption of compensability by showing that the worker did not complain of injuries to his back and relate the back condition to his doctors until one year after the fight. The worker also had a preexisting back condition for which he had received treatment. He did not report a hip or back injury to a doctor he visited two months after the fight. Also, imaging studies from one year after the fight were normal.
As for his hip condition, the company presented evidence that the worker was not limping after the injury. Also, an MRI one year after the fight was normal. Two doctors indicated that a lump near the worker's ear was not work-related.
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November 17, 2011
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