Preexisting arthritis doesn't preclude comp for fall from ladder
Case name: Franzel v. State of Kansas, No. 106,193 (Kan. Ct. App. 02/10/12, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Kansas Court of Appeals held that a worker was entitled to permanent partial disability benefits and the right to seek future medical treatment.
What it means: In Kansas, a worker's impairment rating is not required to be reduced for a preexisting impairment if no evidence shows that the preexisting condition was symptomatic before the work-related injury.
Summary: A worker for a state university was descending a ladder. He missed the last rung and dropped to the ground. When he landed, he felt a pop and a burning sensation in his knee. An MRI revealed arthritis. His doctor imposed work restrictions, including no ladders, squatting, or kneeling. An orthopedic surgeon opined that his ladder work aggravated his preexisting arthritis in his knee. He sought benefits. The Kansas Court of Appeals held that he was entitled to PPD benefits and the right to seek future medical treatment.
The state conceded that the worker suffered an accidental injury arising out of and in the course of his employment but challenged the nature and extent of his permanent partial disability. The court said that his work injury caused him to lose the ability to perform work tasks that he previously performed. He had to avoid working on ladders and stairs. The court said his permanent partial general disability had to equal his functional impairment because the state accommodated his work restrictions and there was no evidence that he took a wage cut.
The court also pointed out that a physician who performed an independent examination opined that the work injury aggravated the worker's preexisting osteoarthritis, which had developed over time. There was evidence that the worker had no impairment before his work injury. Therefore, the court adopted the physician's 33 percent impairment rating without reducing it for a preexisting impairment.
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April 12, 2012
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