Inconsistent testimony, gaps in medical treatment block claim for benefits
Case name: Step Mar Contracting, 112 NYWCLR 136 (N.Y.W.C.B., Full Board 2012).
Ruling: The New York Workers' Compensation Board found that a construction worker who alleged a back injury while operating a jackhammer did not sustain an accidental injury in the course of his employment.
What it means: In New York, where the evidentiary record contains many discrepancies, including the injured worker's inconsistent testimony regarding when and who he gave notice of his work injury, along with lengthy, intermittent gaps in his medical treatment, the worker failed to prove he sustained an accidental injury in the course of his employment.
Summary: A construction worker alleged that he sustained a back injury while operating a jackhammer. The worker said that he gave the employer's acting foreman notice of the accident. He also said that during the week after the accident he contacted the employer by advising either the project supervisor or another of his bosses that he had sustained a back injury while operating a jackhammer at work. However, the project supervisor testified that he was not notified of a work-related accident until months later and that the worker was hired as a flagman, a position that does not require the use of any heavy equipment.
The record revealed lengthy, intermittent gaps in the worker's medical treatment. He also sustained three intervening accidents all resulting in injuries to his back. These factors made it difficult to determine whether his back problems were causally related to the alleged work accident. Due to these discrepancies in the evidentiary record, the board found the worker did not sustain an accidental injury in the course of his employment.
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October 8, 2012
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