Case name: Trahan v. Montgomery Electric & Maintenance, Inc., No. 11-1426 (La. Ct. App. 04/04/12).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a worker was not entitled to benefits for his back injury because he did not prove a causal connection between the work incident and his injury.
What it means: In Louisiana, a worker is entitled to a presumption that his disability was caused by the work-related accident if before the accident, he was in good health but afterward began having symptoms which continuously manifested.
Summary: A worker was in the course and scope of his employment when the wall of a trench in which he was standing collapsed on him. He was thrown against the other wall of the trench. The worker was stuck for a short time until a coworker dug him out. He had back pain and was diagnosed with degenerative disk disease. He did not report the incident to the employer until two months later. He sought workers' compensation benefits. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that the worker was not entitled to benefits because he did not prove causation.
The worker asserted that the court should apply a presumption that his back pain resulted from the incident where he was in reasonably good health prior to the incident and had an onset of pain shortly thereafter. The court said that to apply this presumption the worker was required to show sufficient medical evidence to show a reasonable possibility of causation or that the nature of the incident, combined with the surrounding circumstances, raised an inference of a causal connection between the accident and the injury.
The court found that the worker did not meet his burden. His medical records showed that before the work incident he saw several medical providers and had complaints of chronic back pain. There was no mention of a work incident in any of his medical records. He was therefore not in good health before the accident.
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May 17, 2012
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